Meira's rise may deprive Bihar of its sole minister

The likely elevation of Meira Kumar as the Lok Sabha Speaker will add a new chapter in the history of Indian Parliament. But then, it will also be the first time when Bihar will remain unrepresented in the Union Council of Ministers.
The State, which sends 40 MPs to the Lok Sabha, had just one Union Minister — Meira Kumar— in the recently-constituted Manmohan Singh Government. Meira, who was allocated the portfolio of Water Resources Department a few days ago, had a tough job in hand as the Kosi flood was rearing its ugly head with the onset of monsoon.
Besides, with her experience in the External Affairs Ministry, where Meira served as an Indian Foreign Service officer from 1973 to 1985, her diplomatic skills would have helped her resolve the bilateral issue of excess flow of water from neighbouring country Nepal.
The heavy discharge of water by the Himalayan state has been one of the prime reasons for Bihar being flooded year after year.
Thus, the appointment of Meira as Union Cabinet Minister for Water Resources Department had rejoiced the state’s people who had hoped that the daughter of former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram would help ease, if not resolve, the decades-long Indo-Nepal flood problem.
Incidentally, Meira was the only Union Minister from the Congress party to have emerged victorious from Bihar in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls.
The other Congress Memeber of Parliament who romped home was Asrarul Haq, a first-timer, representing the Muslim-dominated Kishanganj.
The previous Manmohan Singh ministry had a fair amount of representatives from Bihar.
Altogether 11 ministers were part of the regime from 2004 to 2009.
Out of this, five were of Cabinet rank (Lalu Prasad, Ram Vilas Paswan, Meira Kumar, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Prem Gupta), while the rest six were Minister of State.
In NDA government
Even in Vajpayee’s ministry, Bihar had nine ministers from 1999 to 2004.
The only time the state was poorly represented in the Lok Sabha was in the year 1991, when the Congress’s sole Member of PeLok Sabha member Krishna Sahi was appointed  Minister of State for Industries in the Narasimha Rao ministry. Even then, another Bihar leader Rameshwar Thakur (now Karnataka governor) was roped in as a Minister of State for Finance to rectify the regional imbalance.  But with Meira’s elevation as Speaker, Bihar, for the first time, will go unrepresented in the Union Cabinet.


Political ladder


* 1945: Jagjiwan Ram’s daughter was born on     March 31.
* 1973: Joins Indian Foreign Service, where she continued till 1985.
* 1985: Joins active politics. Contests by-election for Bijnore Lok Sabha seat and defeats Mayawati and Ram Vilas Paswan to register her first victory in parliamentary poll.
* 1991: Becomes member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC).
* 1991-92: Appointed AICC general secretary.
 1996: Wins Karol Bagh seat on Congress ticket.
* 1998: Retains Karol Bagh seat in the 12th Lok Sabha.
* 2004: Wins from her father’s traditional Lok Sabha seat - Sasaram - in Bihar.
* 2004: Becomes Cabinet Minister (Social Justice and Empowerment) for the first time.
* 2009: Retains Sasaram seat and appointed Cabinet Minister again. This time gets Water Resources Department.

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