JD(U) MLA Ratnesh Sada has been sworn in as the Bihar minister, succeeding Santosh Suman who recently resigned. Suman cited a threat to the existence of his party as the reason for his resignation.
Cabinet Expansion and Oath-Taking Ceremony
The oath-taking ceremony for Ratnesh Sada took place at Raj Bhavan in Bihar. Along with Sada, several leaders from the Congress and RJD also took the oath as part of a cabinet expansion led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. This expansion comes ahead of the opposition parties’ meeting scheduled for June 23.
Cabinet Strength and Party Representation
The cabinet expansion was long-awaited after the JD(U) ended its alliance with the BJP and formed the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) government in August 2022. Prior to Suman’s resignation, the Bihar Cabinet consisted of 30 ministers. As per the Assembly’s strength, a maximum of 36 ministers can be accommodated.
Accusations and Political Speculation
Ratnesh Sada, the MLA from Sonbarsha, accused the father-son duo of HAM (Hindustani Awam Morcha) of betraying Nitish Kumar due to their insatiable greed and ambitious nature. Sada also alleged that Jitan Ram Manjhi, despite holding ministerial positions in various governments since the 1980s, including a brief tenure as CM, only paid lip service to Dalits, particularly the Musahar community.
There is speculation that elevating Sada, who hails from north Bihar, is a strategic move by Nitish Kumar to counter any potential damage Manjhi could cause, especially if he were to return to the BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Resignation and Party Merger Talks
Santosh Suman resigned on Tuesday, claiming pressure from the JD(U) to merge HAM with the ruling party. Ratnesh Sada, belonging to the Musahar community, stepped down as a cabinet minister in the Bihar government, stating that his party’s existence was under threat. Manjhi acknowledged Nitish Kumar as the leader of the Mahagathbandhan but mentioned discussions about merging the party, to which he felt compelled to resign. He emphasized that the decision was not unilateral and was made after consulting with party members.
Responding to the opposition parties’ meeting on June 23, Suman expressed disappointment at not being invited, highlighting the lack of recognition for his party. He stated that his party would focus on protecting its existence and remained open to being part of the Mahagathbandhan.
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