On Cabinet Expansion, Nitish Kumar Plays Down Speculations

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Speculations were rife that Prashant Kishor may have joined the cabinet. (File)

Patna:

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday chose to play down speculations surrounding the expansion of his cabinet by saying it is in the offing some time next year.

At the state executive meeting of the JD(U) in September, Mr Kumar had told party leaders that expansion of his cabinet was likely after Dussehra, which fell on October 19.

"I had said after Dussehra, which means before the one falling next year," Mr Kumar said.

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Mr Kumar, who is also the national president of the Janata Dal (United), made the remark in Patna in reply to queries from journalists on the sidelines of a function organised on the occasion of establishment day of the state disaster management authority.

Names of probable candidates that have been doing the rounds include JD(U) MLC and spokesman Neeraj Kumar and Ashok Choudhary, a former state Congress president and a powerful minister in the previous Grand Alliance government, who joined the Chief Ministers party earlier this year.

Initially, the name of Prashant Kishor, poll strategist-turned-politician, who joined the party at its state executive meet recently, was also being considered among the probables.

However, upon his elevation as national vice-president, it is being said that he is likely to remain engaged with the party's crucial backroom operations.

Speculations are also rife that BJP MLC Sanjay Paswan may be inducted from his party's quota.

A number of key departments in the state are at present without full-time ministers, most notable being social welfare which fell vacant upon the resignation of Manju Verma following the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal and of which education minister Krishna Nandan Prasad Verma is at present holding the additional charge.

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