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Lalu’s 2 sons in Nitish cabinet; anti-BJP leaders throng swearing-in event in Patna

Lalu’s 2 sons in Nitish cabinet; anti-BJP leaders throng swearing-in event in Patna
Highlights

Nitish Kumar took the reins of Bihar for a third term, being sworn in as chief minister on Friday as the head of a 29-member Cabinet along with RJD chief Lalu Yadav\'s two sons, one of whom, Tejaswi Yadav, was made deputy chief minister.

Nitish Kumar took the reins of Bihar for a third term, being sworn in as chief minister on Friday as the head of a 29-member Cabinet along with RJD chief Lalu Yadav's two sons, one of whom, Tejaswi Yadav, was made deputy chief minister.


While the RJD and JD(U) have 12 members each in the ministry, the Congress, which won 27 seats in the Bihar Assembly election, has four. The ministers were sworn in by Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind in the presence of predominantly non-BJP leaders.

In the single-tier ministry of 28, first-timers Tejaswi Yadav and Tej Pratap, Mr Lalu Yadav’s sons, took the cream. While the younger son, 26-year-old Tejaswi, got the PWD ministry (road construction and buildings construction) in addition to becoming deputy chief minister, Tej Pratap Yadav got the health ministry in the Nitish cabinet. Mr Nitish Kumar retained the home, information and publicity and general administration departments.

Opposition meets at fete

The RJD and JD (U) have 12 members each in the Nitish Kumar ministry, while the Congress, which won 27 seats in the Bihar Assembly election, has four ministers. The ministers were sworn in by Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind in the presence of predominantly non-BJP leaders, a possible indication of future alignments.

In the single-tier ministry of 28, first-timers Tejaswi Yadav and Tej Pratap, Mr Lalu Yadav’s sons, took the cream. While the younger son, 26-year-old Tejaswi, got the PWD ministry (road construction and buildings construction) in addition to becoming deputy CM, Tej Pratap Yadav got the health ministry in the Nitish Kumar Cabinet.

Tejaswi Yadav is also a cricketer and had been part of an IPL team. Mr Kumar retained the home, information and publicity and general administration departments.

Though the swearing-in as CM was his fourth time since 2005, this was the third oath-taking ceremony in the historical Gandhi Maidan, from where Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan had launched his movement for total revolution and changed the political contours of the country.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, whose party was also a major beneficiary of the Grand Alliance, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, National Conference leaders and former J&K CMs Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar, and AIUDF leader from Assam Badaruddin Ajmal were among those present at the ceremony. Union minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, who was deputed by PM Narendra Modi, was also present.

A number of Congress CMs, including Virbhadra Singh (Himachal Pradesh), Oommen Chandy (Kerala), Tarun Gogoi (Assam) and Siddaramiah (Karnataka), the CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s Sudhakar Reddy and D. Raja, DMK’s M.K. Stalin and T.R. Baalu also attended. Some BJP allies, like Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Badal (Akali Dal) and Ram Das Kadam and Subhash Desai (Shiv Sena) also came for the swearing-in.

Lalu Yadav loyalist Abdul Bari Sidiqqui, who was groomed by Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur, was given the finance portfolio. Mr Sidiqqui was the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly when the NDA (JD-U and BJP) was in power in Bihar. While Mr Kumar’s decision to make Lalu Yadav’s younger son his deputy is being opposed by BJP leaders, who say that "through Tejaswi, Lalu Yadav will interfere in government affairs", leaders of the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance), slamming the BJP’s remarks, said, "Such allegations are being made out of frustration. Our government will focus on the overall development of the state. Nitish Kumar is the chief minister and he is capable of running the government."

Mr Kumar and Mr Lalu Yadav, who welcomed the galaxy of leaders in Patna before Mr Kumar took the oath of office on Friday, later invited them to the CM’s official residence for high tea. "Lalu Yadav through this event is trying to build a consensus among all non-BJP leaders, keeping the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in mind," sources said.

A senior JD(U) leader said "this was not just a mandate for the Assembly election, it was a message from the people for us", indicating that Mr Nitish Kumar will be the "prime ministerial candidate" in the next Lok Sabha election. Asserting that "good governance" and better "law and order" conditions will bring about overall development of Bihar, leaders of the Grand Alliance are hopeful that the 28 ministers who took the oath on Friday will help Mr Kumar fulfil his promises to further develop the state by implementing his seven-point agenda.
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