When after 86 days Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar expanded his cabinet on February 9 he perhaps knowingly, opted not to take any one from Yadav or Paswan castes. In contrast two Muslims—Syed Shahnawaz Hussian and Zaman Khan—were inducted into his team.
Besides, the name of two of the senior-most ministers from the BJP quota in the last cabinet—Prem Kumar and Nand Kishore Yadav—failed to be accommodated. This is obviously because the saffron party leadership refused to give green signal to their names. They both have been representing Gaya and Patna Saheb Assembly seats for the last 30 and 25 years respectively. Incidentally, on November 15 last, that is just a day ahead of the oath taking of the Nitish government, speculation was rife that Prem Kumar would be the new deputy chief minister.
But today he is nowhere. Nine of the new ministers who took oath today come from the BJP quota while seven from the Janata Dal United and one, Sumeet Singh (Independent) is lending support to Nitish Kumar’s party.
Others who got place are Shravan Kumar, Lesi Singh, Madan Sahni, Jayant Raj, Sunil Kumar, Sanjay Kumar Jha from JD-U, while Alok Ranjan Jha, Pramod Kumar, Neeraj Kumar Babloo, Janak Ram, Subodh Singh, Narayan Prasad, Samrat Chaudhary and Nitin Naveen are from the BJP. It needs to be mentioned that Zaman Khan was the lone BSP MLA to win the last Assembly election. However, he had recently joined the Janata Dal-United. On the other hand, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain had served as the Union Minister in the Vajpayee cabinet between 1999 and 2004.