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Business News/ Politics / Koeri, Bhumihar, Kurmi: Nitish Kumar's new team balances caste equation in Bihar government
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Koeri, Bhumihar, Kurmi: Nitish Kumar's new team balances caste equation in Bihar government

Nitish Kumar breaks alliance with RJD and Congress to join BJP, becoming chief minister of Bihar for the 9th time. NDA leaders balance caste considerations in cabinet formation, with plans to expand cabinet to include legislators from other castes, minority groups, and women.

Bihar governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar, chief minister Nitish Kumar, and deputy chief ministers Samrat Choudhary and Vijay Kumar Sinha in Patna on SundayPremium
Bihar governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar, chief minister Nitish Kumar, and deputy chief ministers Samrat Choudhary and Vijay Kumar Sinha in Patna on Sunday

Bihar politics saw its umpteenth upheaval when its longest serving chief minister Nitish Kumar decided to break an alliance again to join the one he left, again! Nitish Kumar on Sunday broke the Mahagathbandhan alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and Congress. The once front runner of INDIA bloc also quit the alliance and joined hands with Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), a political alliance the Bihar CM had vowed never to look back upon a couple of years ago. 

Nitish Kumar took oath as the chief minister of Bihar on Sunday, after requesting the Bihar governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar to dissolve the previous Mahagathbandhan government, which has Tejaswi Yadav as Deputy Chief Minister. Nitish Kumar was sworn in the chief minister of Bihar for the record 9th time. 

The swearing-in of ministers in Bihar's NDA government on Sunday appears to have been influenced by caste considerations and loyalty.

Bihar now has two deputy chief ministers- Samrat Choudhary, a Koeri, and Vijay Sinha, a Bhumihar. 

This decision by the NDA, helmed by Nitish Kumar in Bihar, evidently points at the power structures attempting to appease OBCs while maintaining the support of the core upper caste base, in a state where caste politics trumps everything else. 

Among those sworn in as members of Nitish Kumar's council of ministers, apart from the two deputy CMs, are BJP’s Prem Kumar, JD(U) leaders Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Vijendra Yadav and Shravan Kumar, Hindustan Awam Morcha leader Santosh Kumar Suman, and Independent MLA Sumit Kumar Singh.

Notably, Nitish Kumar, Samrat Chaudhary, and Santosh Kumar Suman are Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs).

Among the Ministers sworn in were Samrat Chowdhary, Vijay Kumar Sinha and Prem Kumar (BJP), Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Vijay Kumar Chowdhary and Shrawan Kumar (JD-U), Santosh Suman (HAM-S and son of Jitan Ram Manjhi) and Sumit Kumar Singh (Independent).

Political observers note that NDA leaders carefully balanced caste considerations in the cabinet formation.

CM Nitish Kumar told reporters that the cabinet will be expanded in a day or two and other factors will be kept in mind.

According to news agency PTI report, whenever the Bihar cabinet expansion takes place, it will accommodate legislators belonging to other castes, minorities group and women.

The new cabinet comprises three upper caste ministers including Vijay Choudhary and Vijay Sinha from the Bhumihar community, and Sumit Kumar Singh (Independent) from the Rajput community. Shravan Kumar (JD-U) belongs to the Kurmi caste, the same as CM Nitish Kumar.

Recent caste survey in Bihar indicate that Kurmis constitute 2.8 per cent of the total population.

A senior JD(U) leader highlighted the NDA's effort to include diverse social groups in the cabinet, citing examples like Prem Kumar from the Kahar caste and Vijendra Yadav from the Yadav community. Santosh Kumar Suman of HAM represents the Mahadalit community.

With the provision allowing a maximum of 35 ministers in the cabinet, the current swearing-in ceremony saw only eight ministers taking office.

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Published: 29 Jan 2024, 10:32 AM IST
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