After months of anticipation and ahead of crucial state elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will expand the Council of Ministers on 5 July.
Principal spokesperson for the government of India, Frank Noronha, on 4 July tweeted the expansion will take place “tomorrow at 11am”.
At present, the Union Council of Ministers has 65 ministers, including the Prime Minister who heads the Cabinet. As per provisions in the Constitution, there can be 82 ministers in the Council.
The two-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government is looking to induct members from states that have not held positions in the government. The last cabinet reshuffle took place in November 2014.
With the crucial Uttar Pradesh and Punjab assembly elections due next year, the Cabinet is expected to include ministers from these states. Also, Uttarakhand does not have a representative in the Council, which also goes into polls early next year.
Power minister Piyush Goyal and minister for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan are expected to be given Cabinet positions, as per reports. At present, both hold independent charge of their respective ministries.
Since minister of state for youth affairs and sports (independent charge) Sarbananda Sonowal has demitted office to take charge as the chief minister of Assam, the post is lying vacant.
The expansion will take place at the Rashtrapati Bhawan and comes days ahead of Modi leaving for a four-nation tour of Africa. It is also being seen as an attempt to streamline the government’s function ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament which starts on 18 July.
The government is expected to introduce various bills in the approaching session including the much-delayed goods and services tax bill.
Modi held meetings with all ministers last week to evaluate the performance of their ministries and as per reports, the underperformers may be axed from the Council to introduce new faces.
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