Patna: Nitish Kumar on Friday took oath as Bihar Chief Minister for a third straight term at the head of a 29-member Cabinet, including Lalu Prasad's son Tejaswi as Deputy CM, in the presence of predominantly non-BJP leaders that could indicate possible future alignments.
Tej Pratap, Prasad's another victorious son in the elections, was among those who were sworn in by Governor Ram Nath Kovind at a grand function in the Gandhi Maidan in which 12 ministers each from JD(U) and RJD and four from Congress were inducted. Both the sons of the RJD leader are first-time MLAs.
While Kumar retained Home, Information and Publicity and General Administration departments with him, he gave Road Construction and Buildings Construction portfolio to 26-year-old Tejaswi, his Deputy CM. Tej Pratap has been given Health.
Senior RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui has been entrusted with the Finance portfolio.
In an indication of his place in the order of pecking, Tejaswi followed the chief minister in oath taking as his parents Lalu and Rabri Devi, both former chief ministers, watched amidst full-throated cheers from the RJD activists in the gathering.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, whose party was also a major beneficiary of the grand alliance, Minister H D West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, former Prime Minister Deve Gowda, National Conference leaders and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers 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 Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was also present.
A number of Congress chief ministers including Virbhadra Singh (Himachal Pradesh), Oommen Chandy (Kerala), Tarun Gogoi (Assam) and Siddaramiah (Karnataka) (CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury, CPI's Sudhakar Reddy and D Raja, DMK's M K Stalin and T R Baalu also attended the event.
Some allies of BJP Akali Dal Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal (Akali Dal) and Ram Das Kadam and Subhash Desai (Shiv Sena) were also present.
Tej Pratap was the third personality to take oath in the ceremony where NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, JMM leader and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Party, also a former CM were present.
Gandhi reached the venue only at the fag end of the ceremony due to late arrival from Delhi.
Venkaiah Naidu sat beside RJD President Lalu Prasad and was seen talking to him from time to time. Leaders from Indian National Lok Dal, INLD and AGP attended the event.
Though Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his CM son Akhilesh Yadav were invited, SP MP Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, who is also son-in-law of Lalu Prasad, was there.
Mamata Banerjee and CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury shared the stage as did Kejriwal and former chief minister Sheila Dixit and Gogoi and AGP leader Prafulla Mahanta.
Rahul Gandhi shook hands and hugged RJD chief Lalu Prasad amid cheers by the crowd.
Nitish Kumar's son Nishant and elder brother Satish were present on the occasion.
Lalu Prasad's entire family including wife Rabri Devi and seven daughters along with sons-in-law sat in THE VVIP area and were seen cheering Tejaswi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav in particular.
Ministers from RJD who took oath are Tejaswi Yadav, Tej Pratap Yadav, Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Alok Kumar Mehta, Chandrika Rai, Ram Vichar Rai, Shiv Chandra Ram, Abdul Gafoor, Chandrasekhar, Munneshwar Chaudhary, Anita Devi and Vijay Prakash.
Those from JD(U) are Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh, Shrawan Kumar, Jay Kumar Singh, Krishnandan Prasad Varma, Maheshwar Hazari, Shailesh Kumar, Manju Varma, Santosh Kumar Nirala, Khursheed alias Firoz Ahmad, Madan Sahni and Kapildeo Kamat apart from Nitish Kumar.
Congress is represented in the cabinet by Ashok Choudhary, Awdesh Kumar Singh, Abdul Jalil Mastan and Madan Mohan Jha.
Two women, one each from JD(U) and RJD Manju Varma and Anita Devi respectively, got place in the new Bihar cabinet.
Seven more could be accommodated in the Cabinet as under the constitutional provision a maximum of 15 per cent ministers of the total strength of the house is allowed.
Senior Grand Allaince leaders said the coalition government has arrived at a formula of one minister for every 5 MLAs. According to this formula RJD's share is 16, JD(U)'s 14 and Congress 5 besides CM.
RJD had won 80 seats, JD(U) 71 and Congress 27 out of a total of 178 seats of alliance in the 243-member house.
JD(U) saw eight new faces in the ministry. Only Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh, Shrawan Kumar and Jay Kumar Singh were members of the outgoing cabinet.
Many prominent faces of the previous ministries like Shyam Rajak, Narendra Narayan Yadav, Leshi Singh and Ranju Geeta could not find berth in the cabinet this time.
Congress state president Ashok Choudhary could not take oath when his name was called as he had gone to receive Rahul Gandhi. He took oath at the end after Gandhi had arrived.
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Updated Date: Nov 20, 2015 19:23:52 IST