Union Cabinet reshuffle today

New Delhi, Sep 2: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will undertake a revamp of the Union Cabinet tomorrow to fill key vacancies and bring in new faces with a thrust on merit and demands of real politik. After assuming office in May 2014, Modi expanded his council of ministers twice–first on November 9, 2014 and then on July 5, 2016.
Nine new ministers will be inducted into the Cabinet tomorrow.
These new ministers are: Rajya Sabha MP from UP Shiv Pratap Shukla, Lok Sabha MP from Buxar Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Lok Sabha MP from Tikamgah, Madhya Pradesh Virendra Kumar, Lok Sabha MP from Uttara Kannada Anantkumar Hegde, Lok Sabha MP from Arrah Raj Kumar Singh, former IFS officer Hardeep Puri, Lok Sabha MP from Jodhpur Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Lok Sabha MP from Baghpat and former IPS officer Satya Pal Singh and former IAS officer Alphons Kannanthanam are expected to take oath in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet on Sunday.
More than half-a-dozen ministers are expected to make way for new faces in the reshuffle which will take place at 10am tomorrow.
Party leaders like Bhupender Yadav, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Prahlad Patel, Suresh Angadi, Satyapal Singh, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Anurag Thakur, Shobha Karandlaje, Maheish Girri and Prahlad Joshi are being talked about within the party as among the probable ministers. Both Yadav and Sahasrabuddhe are key organisation leaders and Rajya Sabha members.
While carrying out the reshuffle, Modi is also likely to keep an eye on upcoming state elections in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka and his party’s re-election bid in 2019.
Internal troubles in the AIADMK, which has been hit by a rebellion led by T T V Dhinakaran, can prove to be a stumbling block in its joining the government.
AIADMK leader Thambidurai, who met Shah yesterday, might be a likely representative from the party along with P Venugopal and V Maitreyan if it decides to join the government. However, the southern party has not said anything so far.
A cloud of uncertainty also hangs over JD(U)’s participation in Parliament with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar saying there has been no proposal yet for JD(U) to join the government at the Centre. Sources in the JD(U) had earlier confirmed that they were still not informed about their participation in the government.
Union ministers — Kalraj Mishra, Bandaru Dattatreya, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjiv Kumar Balyan, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahendra Nath Pandey — had resigned yesterday ahead of the reshuffle. Uma Bharti, too, had offered to resign but her fate remains in a balance amid speculation that there may be a few more exits.
Speculation swirls over the likely defence minister and names of Suresh Prabhu and Nitin Gadkari are doing the rounds. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is currently holding the additional charge of defence and he has already given indication that he would like to shed charge of the defence.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari, seen as one of the more capable ministers, can be given more responsibility. Railway Minister Prabhu, who had taken moral responsibility for a string of train accidents and indicated his willingness to resign, may be moved to another key ministry, party sources said.
Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha are seen among the “good performers” in the government, a party leader said, adding that some of them can be elevated.
The resignation of Manohar Parrikar and M Venkaiah Naidu from the Union Cabinet and the demise of Anil Dave had created three vacancies in the cabinet. Their portfolios were distributed to Jaitley, Narendra Singh Tomar, Smriti Irani and Harsh Vardhan. 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. (Agencies)