As the completion of Monsoon Session of Parliament nearing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is gearing up to undertake massive reshuffle of his Cabinet till date. According to BJP top party sources, the possibility of rewarding Janata Dal (United) with representation in the Union Cabinet is a certainty following Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s dramatic move to leave the ‘mahagathbandhan’ with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD and Congress, to join the BJP. The JD(U) becoming the part of Central Government will usher the regional party joining the NDA bandwagon for once and all. The strong grapevine suggests that Prime Minister Modi may drop some of the non-performers and introduce new faces in the Union Cabinet.
BJP insiders have confirmed that the Prime Minister and party President Amit Shah have had several rounds of discussions over the impending reshuffle of Cabinet, with an eye on the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Also, there have been rumours doing rounds that Amit Shah may join Modi Cabinet as Defence Minister. However, Shah has rejected the possibilities of resigning from the Party President and joining the government. Shah said he is happy being the party President and busy preparing the next general elections. The speculation of him being joining the government gained currency following his nomination to the Rajya Sabha. Amit Shah has already filed nomination papers for the Upper House elections from Gujarat. Being a five time MLA from his home state Gujarat, Amit Shah will be fighting to become Member of Parliament for the first time in his political career.
Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda may be sent to his home State Himachal Pradesh to take charge of upcoming Assembly elections due in November-December this year. The party has made up its strategy to pitch him as Chief Ministerial candidate of Himachal Pradesh. Likewise, Anurag Thakur, Lok Sabha Member and son of former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal is certain to get a Ministerial berth in the Union Cabinet to sooth the aspirations of Dhumal clan.
Senior party leader from Uttar Pradesh and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Minister at Centre Kalraj Mishra will be donning State Raj Bhavan as Governor soon as he has crossed the age of 75, the yardstick of working as Minister in Modi government. It is to be recalled that the Modi-Shah duo has decided to drop ministers from Union Cabinet on the ground of 75-year yardstick. Najma Heptullah, the then Minority Affairs Minister had to leave from Union Cabinet and become Governor of Manipur last year on a similar ground of crossing this threshold limit of age. The issue of age-threshold limit came into force in a big way when senior Party leaders like L K Advani, M M Joshi and others were made ‘margdarshak’ of a party.
Recently, there had been a few changes within PM Modi’s Cabinet, following which four major ministries are left without a dedicated minister. Former Union Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, shifted to his home state Goa as the Chief Minister, after the assembly elections earlier this year. With the resignation of Parrikar from the Central cabinet, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was given the additional responsibility of the Defence Ministry. In the absence of a dedicated minister for the Environment Ministry, Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan is further undertaking additional charges. Also, M Venkaiah Naidu being a strong contender for the Vice-Presidential election will leave two crucial ministries without a dedicated minister. With Venkaiah Naidu’s resignation from the Cabinet Smriti Irani was given additional charge of Information and Broadcast Ministry and Narendra Tomar took additional charge of Urban Development Ministry. Interestingly, both Smriti Irani and Narendra Tomar lost their respective portfolios during the last cabinet reshuffle by PM Modi.
By: Priyam Mukhopadhyay