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Governor to fly in for ministry expansion

Patna, June 1: Governor D.Y. Patil would be flying in to the city from Mumbai in a special plane tomorrow for a few hours to administer oath of office to new ministers in the Jitan Ram Manjhi ministry.

“He (Patil) will be flying back to Mumbai the same day after the swearing-in ceremony is over. He is coming just for the occasion,” said a confidant of the governor, pointing out that Patil is on a vacation till June 5.

Patil left for his home district Kolhapur in Maharashtra on May 24 after issuing a notification nominating 12 people to the Bihar Legislative Council.

The much-awaited expansion of the Bihar ministry is likely to see all the 36 slots, including the chief minister, filled. Manjhi had taken oath with 17 ministers on May 20. The full-fledged ministry would come into existence almost a year after the JDU parted ways with the BJP last June.

The “hurry” for the ministry expansion is being attributed to the possibility of the change of guard in Raj Bhavan. “It would be better if we finish off the process with a friendly governor at the helm,” said a senior JDU MLA.

The party also wants to overcome the perception that it was not expanding the ministry fearing dissent among its legislators not being accommodated in the cabinet.

The post-general election manoeuvres have resulted into a numerically stronger JDU government with the RJD and the Congress extending support to it. The dissidents have been “marginalised” for the time-being. Agriculture minister Narendra Singh, who has been making noises against Nitish, might be sent to the Rajya Sabha.

“Dissidents might lie low for a while but they will raise their voices again. The expansion might not solve all the problems of the JDU and Nitish,” said a Dal MLA.

The expansion, according to the JDU sources, would reflect the political and caste obligations of the party. The upper castes, particularly the Bhumihars who had strongly sided with the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, could get representation in the ministry. Yadavs and EBCs would also find place. The five former MLAs from the RJD and the BJP who resigned and were made MLCs from the governor’s quota are likely to be accommodated. There would also be “new faces” in the ministry.

Ever since the JDU snapped ties with the BJP, the treasury has been facing embarrassing moments with an ad hoc arrangement of a minister replying to questions related to portfolios under the chief minister. “The treasury bench will now have ministers holding the portfolio replying to the questions related to a department,” said a JDU minister.


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