Prime Minister Narendra Modi will reshuffle and expand his council of ministers on Tuesday, the second time since he took office in May 2014 as the head of the first majority government in three decades.
Modi hasn’t effected a major change in his council of ministers since taking office. The cabinet rejig became necessary after former youth affairs minister Sarbananda Sonowal moved to Assam as the chief minister and former junior consumer affairs minister Raosaheb Patil Danve was made the Maharashtra chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Junior social justice minister Vijay Sampla, too, could resign after he was made Punjab state BJP chief.
The maximum size of the council of ministers can be 82. Speculation has been rife on who might make it to or get dropped from the 65-member council of ministers, 26 of whom are of cabinet rank. NDTV reported that Modi had held a five-hour-long performance assessment on 29 June ahead of the reshuffle.
The top four portfolios of home, defence, external affairs and finance are unlikely to be changed, according to news reports. But finance minister Arun Jaitley, who also heads the corporate affairs and the information and broadcasting ministries, might be relieved of at least one of them, NDTV reported.
The upcoming elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are likely to weigh heavily while considering who goes in or out of Modi’s ministry. This could see some BJP members from the Other Backward Class and Dalit communities become ministers, according to a Business Standard report.
Also expected to be sworn in on Tuesday are Arjun Ram Meghwal, the BJP member of parliament from Bikaner in Rajasthan; Mansukh Bhai Mandavia, a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat; and Anil Desai of the Shiv Sena, a BJP ally from Maharashtra, according to another NDTV report. Anupriya Patel, Apna Dal member from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, might be inducted as well, the Mint reported.
Several ministers of state, including power minister Piyush Goyal and oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan, are likely to be given cabinet berths based on their performance.
Some ministers from Uttar Pradesh could be dropped and redrafted into party work in the wake of the crucial elections in the state next year, although there is no clarity on exactly who might be axed.
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