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#NitishSwearingIn: family affair for Lalu, show of strength for anti-BJP front

Panini Anand | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 9:42 IST

On Friday, Nitish Kumar took oath as chief minister in front of a huge crowd of supporters at Patna's Gandhi Maidan. But all eyes were on who would take the pledge next. For that would indicate the pecking order in the new ruling dispensation.

It turned out to be the first-term legislator Tejaswi Yadav. RJD chief Lalu Prasad's 26-year-old son is Bihar's new deputy chief minister.

Tejaswi was followed by his brother, Tej Pratap, 27. Then came Abdul Bari Siddiqui, the RJD's most prominent Muslim leader who begins his sixth term as legislator.

While this order of preference was widely expected, it has disappointed many. Instead of sending a strong message by choosing a senior Muslim leader like Siddiqui as deputy chief minister, Lalu decided to concentrate power in his family.

This is typical Lalu, always wary of putting trust in party leaders. In 1997, when he was unseated as chief minister, he installed his wife Rabri Devi, who had barely any political or administrative experience, in his place. Today, Rabri sat with Lalu as they watched their sons being sworn in.

Nitish_EMBED1_PTI

Photo: PTI

After family, Lalu gave second preference to the caste. Of the 12 ministers from the RJD, five are Yadav.

Mostly, selection of the ministers by the coalition partners was a smooth affair, much like seat sharing before the election. The names were finalised a day before the swearing-in, though changes were reportedly made till the last minute. Representation was given to all major sections of the society - EBCs, OBCs, Dalits, Muslims, upper castes, youth, women.

The question is, will they perform? And will Lalu's sons cooperate with Nitish and not let power go to their heads.

Making of a front?

If a political message went from the swearing-in ceremony, it was in who attended - among others notables, Rahul Gandhi, HD Deve Gowda, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Tarun Gogoi, Sitaram Yechury, Farooq Abdullah, Arvind Kejriwal, MK Stalin.

That is the look of a possible united front against Narendra Modi's BJP.

Rahul was the last of them to arrive, his flight having been delayed due to bad weather. He greeted Lalu and sat close to him. But soon, he was walking over to greet other guests. Although a shade awkward -- this is not expected while swearing-in is going on - Rahul was visibly energetic and exuded confidence.

These leaders later joined Nitish for tea where they reportedly discussed plans for the upcoming winter session of parliament.

However, two important faces were missing from the gathering - BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav. Mulayam was expected to attend with his family members - his grandson is married to Lalu's daughter - but didn't. His party had ditched the Grand Alliance before the election and contested separately, only to perform abysmally.

The central government was represented by M Venkaiah Naidu. He sat near Lalu Prasad in the first row. There were rumours that BJP veteran LK Advani would attend the ceremony, but he didn't.

The ceremony wasn't without drama. Lalu's son Tej Pratap misread his oath and was asked by Governor Ram Nath Kovind to retake it.

Nitish_EMBED2_PTI

Photo: PTI

The new ministry

Nitish's team has 28 members, 12 each from the JDU and the RJD, and four from the Congress. Here are the ministers and their portfolios:

Nitish Kumar

The chief minister has kept several key departments such as Home, Cabinet Secretariat, Vigilance, Election, Information and Public Relations with himself.

Tejaswi Prasad Yadav, RJD

Deputy chief minister, PWD, Building Construction, OBC and EBC Welfare

Tej Pratap Yadav, RJD

Health, Environment, Minor Irrigation

Abdul Bari Siddiqui, RJD

Finance

Vijendra Prasad Yadav, JDU

Energy

Rajeev Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, JDU

Water Resources

Manju Verma, JDU

Social Welfare

Madan Mohan Jha, Congress

Revenue and Land Development

Madan Saini, JDU

Food and Civil Supplies

Ashok Chaudhary, Congress

Education, IT

Vijay Prakash, RJD

Labour Resources

Ram Vichar Rai, RJD

Agriculture

Kapil Dev Kamath, JDU

Panchayati Raj

Santosh Nirala, JDU

SC/ST Welfare

Abdul Jaleel Mastan, Congress

Excise

Abdul Gafoor, RJD

Minority Affairs

Chandrika Rai, RJD

Transport

Maheshwar Hazari, JDU

Urban Development

Chandra Shekhar, RJD

Disaster Management

Jai Kumar Singh, JDU

Industry, Science & Technology

Anita Devi, RJD

Tourism

Awadhesh Kumar Singh, Congress

Animal Husbandry minister

Muneshwar Chaudhary, RJD

Mining

Krishna Nandan Verma, JDU

PHE, Law

Khurshid alias Firoz Ahmed, JDU

Sugarcane

Shailesh Kumar, JDU

Rural Works

Alok Kumar Mehta, RJD

Cooperatives

Shravan Kumar, JDU

Rural Development

Shivchandra Ram, RJD

Art and Culture

Also reads:

Nitish returns: Watch out for Baharis as the Bihari takes oath

Bihar verdict: the idea of India is at stake

Ears to the ground: Bihar's political analysts break down the verdict

First published: 21 November 2015, 12:51 IST
 
Panini Anand @paninianand

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Panini is a poet, singer, cook, painter, commentator, traveller and photographer who has worked as reporter, producer and editor for organizations including BBC, Outlook and Rajya Sabha TV. An IIMC-New Delhi alumni who comes from Rae Bareli of UP, Panini is fond of the Ghats of Varanasi, Hindustani classical music, Awadhi biryani, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, political talks and heritage walks. He has closely observed the mainstream national political parties, the Hindi belt politics along with many mass movements and campaigns in last two decades. He has experimented with many mass mediums: theatre, street plays and slum-based tabloids, wallpapers to online, TV, radio, photography and print.

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