Nitish Kumar will be sworn in as the Bihar chief minister for a fourth straight term on Monday at a ceremony which will be attended by the top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and party president J P Nadda.
The BJP, which has clinched 31 more seats than the 43 pocketed by Kumar’s Janata Dal-United, is likely to have two deputy chief ministers on the lines of Uttar Pradesh. The names of four-time MLAs Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi, who were chosen the leader and the deputy leader of the BJP legislature party on Sunday, are doing the rounds for the post.
According to BJP sources, party national general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh will also be present at the ceremony.
According to a Raj Bhavan communication, Governor Phagu Chauhan will administer the oath of office and secrecy to Kumar at 4:30 pm.
BJP workers are enthused over the visit of Shah, arguably the second most powerful man in the ruling dispensation after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had set the tone for election campaign much before the schedule was announced by addressing the party’s first digital rally but remained conspicuous by his absence during the electioneering.
After his electoral victories in 2010 and 2015, Kumar had taken oath at star-studded ceremonies held at the sprawling Gandhi Maidan in the presence of a large number of dignitaries and the common people.
This time, however, it is going to be a much more subdued affair on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, informed sources said that besides Kumar, eight others from the four National Democratic Alliance constituents may be sworn in and the cabinet may be expanded at a later stage.
Those from the JD-U may include Ashok Choudhary, Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Vijay Kumar Chaudhary and Shravan Kumar.
The possible induction in the ministry of Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, who was the assembly Speaker for the past five years, is being seen as an indication of the likelihood of the BJP having struck a hard bargain for the crucial post.
Ashok Choudhary, who held building construction portfolio in the previous government and is the working president of the JD-U’s state unit, thanked Nitish Kumar for “reposing his trust in me. This is a challenging tenure during which we also need to revive our party”.
The JD-U, which saw its tally fall to 43 from 71 in 2015, bore the brunt of the split in votes caused by the rebellion of Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party.
Others expected to be sworn in are Mukesh Sahni, the founding chief of Vikassheel Insaan Party, which has won four seats though Sahni himself lost, and Santosh Suman, whose father Jitan Ram Manjhi is a former chief minister and the president of Hindustani Awam Morcha.