Nitish Kumar, who passed the confidence vote in the assembly yesterday with flying colours, is set to expand his two-member cabinet (that includes him and deputy CM and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi who took their oaths on Thursday) to include 19 members from his own party Janata Dal United and nine from the BJP, among others. The move comes after the swift disassociation of the Grand Alliance that had won Bihar last year that brought together arch rivals Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav, along with the Congress party. The alliance was able to push back against the NDA that has scored major electoral victories almost everywhere else. In the end, it was the old graft ghost that came to haunt Lalu and his son Tejashwini (who was deputy CM in the previous arrangement) as they were named in a CBI corruption case. Nitish wanted Tejashwini to resign, but the latter refused to oblige and stood his ground. The switch to old partners BJP has been swift, and has taken the national political scene by quite a storm.
Ministers from LJP, Ram Vilas Paswan’s party that has been loyal to the NDA, are also to be inducted. The likely names include Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh, Lesy Singh, Shrawan Kumar, Jai Kumar Singh and Khursheed Alam from the JD(U); Nand Kishore Yadav, Prem Kumar, Mangal Pandey, Rajneesh Kumar, Gyanendra Singh Gyanoo, Ramprit Paswan, Braj Kishore Bind, Suresh Sharma and KK Rishi from BJP and Pashupati Kumar Paras from Lok Janshakti Party.
Earlier on Friday, amid high drama, RJD’s request for a secret ballot to allow for a “vote of conscience” was rejected, and the legislators voted in lobbies. The now in-power JDU-NDA combine got the needed 131 votes to prove its majority in the house. The events mark a remarkable turnaround for the BJP in Bihar, and JDU’s return to the NDA fold already speak of ominous tidings for the general elections in 2019.