Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-publicised ‘sabka saath, sabka vikaas’ is losing its sheen in Bihar where there is not a single Muslim face in CM Nitish Kumar's Cabinet.
Incidentally, this is the first time since Independence that not one Muslim face has got representation in the Cabinet in the state which has 17 per cent minority population.
Sources in the ruling NDA attributed this imbalance to the strange electoral verdict in the Assembly poll. “The BJP did not field any Muslim candidates. The JD(U) fielded 11 minorities, but all lost. There is not a single Muslim MLA on the treasury side. Obviously, there is no representation of Muslims,” lamented the senior NDA functionary.
But Nitish, who has a track record of taking along all sections of the society, is believed to be aware of the omission of the minority community in his Cabinet.
Sources said that he was mulling over the proposal whether to induct any Muslim legislator, who is a member of the Legislative Council (MLC), or prefer the sole BSP MLA Jama Khan. Presently, the JD(U) has five Muslim MLCs.
However, Khan has already met Nitish amid speculation that the only MLA of the Mayawati-led BSP may join the JD(U) and eventually be elevated as a Minister, with the portfolio of Minority Affairs Department.
“Nitish wants to send a message to the Muslims that despite suffering electoral reverses in the recently-concluded Bihar Assembly polls, where the JD(U) won merely 43 seats in the 243-member House, his concern and commitment towards the welfare of minorities remains undiluted. It is against this backdrop that a Muslim face could join the Nitish Cabinet soon, possibly in December itself, when the NDA Ministry is expanded,” said the source.
At present, Nitish has 14 ministers. As per the constitutional provisions, he can have maximum 36 ministers in his team. The remaining slot is likely to be filled up soon as most of the ministers are currently holding the charge of four-five departments.