Prime Minister Narendra Modi will reshuffle his Cabinet before he leaves for China on Sunday to attend BRICS summit. According to news agency PTI, several new faces, including some from the BJP’s allies, are expected to join the government. It will be the third such exercise since he took over in May 2014.
“A process has been set in motion for the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan at around 10 am on Sunday,” a top government official said.
Since yesterday, six Union ministers Bandaru Dattatreya, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Kalraj Mishra, Sanjeev Balyan and Mahendra Nath Pandey have submitted their resignations. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has already offered to quit. Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti has reportedly also offered to quit on health grounds although she has refused to either confirm or deny reports of her resignation.
“The media sought my reaction on reports in circulation since yesterday. I have said that I have not heard the question, will not hear nor will I answer it,” she tweeted.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gave indications of new Defence Minister likely to be appointed soon when he said that he may not shoulder the additional responsibility of Defence Ministry for long. BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi after holding meeting with senior ministers, triggering speculations of imminent reshuffle of the Cabinet.
BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, party’s vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Prahlad Patel, Suresh Angadi, Satyapal Singh and Prahlad Joshi are being talked about within the party as probable ministers.
Two ministers from AIADMK are likely to be inducted in the Union Cabinet and the names doing the rounds are – Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha M Thambidurai and P Venugopal. Two ministers from JD(U) are also likely to find place in the Cabinet. Those who may join the Narendra Modi Cabinet are – Satyapal Singh (BJP), RCP Singh and Santosh Kushwaha (both JD-U), Suresh Angadi (BJP), Rakesh Singh or Prahlad Patel (BJP), V Maitreyan (AIADMK) and Mahesh Girri (BJP).
The current strength of the Council of Ministers, including the Prime Minister, is 73 and the maximum number of ministers cannot go beyond 81. According to a constitutional amendment, the limit cannot exceed beyond 15 per cent of the total strength of the Lok Sabha which is 545.
Ministers with additional charges may see their burden reduce
Sunday’s reshuffle is likely to take load off four ministers who are holding additional charges after vacancies arose in the Cabinet between March and July this year due to various reasons. In the rejig, PM Modi may induct new faces lessening the burden on these ministers.
In March, Manohar Parrikar resigned as defence minister. He later became the chief minister of Goa. Arun Jaitley, who was holding the portfolio of Finance and Corporate Affairs, was given the additional charge of Defence.
In May, Anil Dave, the then Environment and Forest minister, passed away. Science and Technology minister Harsh Vardhan was given the additional charge of the Environment Ministry.
In July, M Venkaiah Naidu resigned from the Union Cabinet after being picked up as the NDA nominee for the post of Vice President of India. His Housing and Urban Affairs portfolio went to Narendra Singh Tomar as additional charge. Tomar is the minister for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation.
Naidu’s Information and Broadcasting portfolio went to Smriti Irani, the minister for Textiles. Besides, Ravi Shankar Prasad holds two portfolios — Law and Justice and Information-Technology.