The much awaited third round of Cabinet expansion is just over, although the strength has not reached the promised figure of 40.
This time only 17 names were on the list, but at the last moment, a Jharkahand member crossed the floor and was included in the Harihar Cabinet. This little dramatic touch gave a new twist to the Congress-led coalition in Bihar.
Piece-meal absorption of the Ministers seems to have become a routine in Bihar.
For 10 days after being sworn in, the Chief Minister was the only member of the Cabinet. Later, 11 members were included. More than a month later, three more Congress members were taken in.
With 18 more included now, the strength of those in power has gone up to 33 with the prospect of seven more to be dragged into the power-net.
Issue of Survival
And it is precisely in filling these created vacancies that the Ministry is facing its all-important issue of survival. Groupism and casteismm, which have dogged all Ministries in Bihar, are now more than ever coming to the fore.
Meanwhile, one of the partners of the ruling coalition, the Raja of Ramgarh is promising to prove to be what KB Sahay used to say for himself – he had said that he shall either be the head or the headache of Bihar.
In the case of Raja of Ramgarh, it happily so happens that he is proving to be both to Bihar – head of the State by the courtesy of Chief Minister Harihar Singh and headache to the Congress party in the State.
His Janata Party was called “helicopter party” by the late Jawaharlal Nehru. The Raja used to make speeches from his helicopter.
In a new development concerning the vast fortunes of the Raja, the State Government’s appeal (pending before the Supreme Court) seeking appointment of a receiver for the landed property and mines of Ramgarh which were under litigation between the State of Bihar and the Raja has been withdrawn by the Advocate General of the State.
These cases concern property worth Rs 100 crore. There are as many as 273 cases between the Raja of Ramgarh and the State Government pending in various courts.
Excerpts from Enlite 14 June 1969