The media reports said that the Modi government is all set for an expansion-cum-reshuffle on September 2. Reshuffle in the Cabinet ministry is expected as Manohar Parrikar resigned as defence minister to become the chief minister of Goa, finance minister Arun Jaitley has been holding the additional portfolio of the defence ministry since then. The big question is the date of the reshuffle as that date looks like more of a necessity than a choice as Friday is the only time in the next some days when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, and Amit Shah will be present in the national capital.
According to the IBN7 research team, the President is yet to the official the move of the reshuffle in the Cabinet, but it is expected that it would take place before PM Modi leaves for China. A big setback came for the skills development minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy as his resignation from his portfolio. The former minister of state (MoS) in the HRD ministry, Mahendra Nath Pandey, has been appointed as the state president of the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit. Due to the party’s one man-one post rule, Pandey is expected to resign from the Cabinet. Some party sources disclosed that several BJP leaders have already offered their resignation. According to the Firstpost’s news, some of the BJP leaders that came to notice are Giriraj Singh (MoS for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) and Sanjeev Baliyan, MoS for agriculture and food processing.
More than half a dozen ministers are expected to be dropped after the Cabinet reshuffle, according to the IBN7 research team. The Times of India reported that Uma Bharti has proposed her resignation on the health grounds. Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh has resigned after receiving criticism over the death of protesting farmers in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur, NDTV reported. The India Today also gave the names of Vishnu Deo Sai (MoS for Steel and Mines), Krishna Raj (MoS for Women and Child Development) and Vijay Sampla (MoS for Social Justice and Empowerment) in the list of those who will be resigning. The news on the Cabinet reshuffle increased after the Finance minister Arun Jaitley hinted on Thursday that he would not hold the defence ministry for too long.
When Jaitley was asked about how long he would continue as defence minister, the Finance minister said that “At least not for so long”. Jaitley has also been charged as in-charge for Gujarat elections. Alongside Jaitley, there are 3 other ministers who are holding additional ministry portfolios. The textiles minister Smriti Irani is also having the charge of the information and broadcasting ministry, whereas the rural development minister is holding an additional portfolio of the urban development ministry after M Venkaiah Naidu resigned for the election of Vice-President. Harsh Vardhan, Union science and technology minister, is holding additional charge of the environment portfolio after the Anil Madhav Dave’s death in May. As per the India Today, right now, the council of ministers has 72 ministers – 24 of cabinet rank, 12 MoS (independent charge) and 36 MoS.
The maximum number of ministers in the ministry can go for 81, which means that the government can still add nine more ministers. A BJP leader said to the Livemint that “A major reshuffle is likely in BJP in the coming days. The party leadership wants to bring back some of the former general secretaries who had played decisive roles in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. These senior leaders would be appointed in-charge of a specific state”. It is generally expected that the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s party leaders could join the Union Cabinet following Nitish Kumar joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. JD (U) leaders Ram Chandra Prasad Singh and Purnea MP Santosh Kushwaha could join the Cabinet, according to the report in The Times of India.
There are speculations going that the Railway minister might be shifted out, especially after the series of train derailments. It is expected that he might become the environment minister, which role he played before under the Vajpayee government. According to the India Today report, JP Nadda could become the chief ministerial candidate of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Himachal Pradesh unit and could replace former Himachal Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. The News18 reported that the ministers who were seen doing their work amazingly like power minister Piyush Goyal and petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan could be promoted. Manoj Sinha (minister of communication (independent charge) and MoS for railways) and Jitendra Singh (MoS (independent charge) for development of north eastern region and PMO) are too considered for the promotion.
There are speculations going that either the TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi could take up the railway ministry or that a mega transport and mobility ministry could be made under Nitin Gadkari, who has an extraordinary past record as highways and shipping minister. The last Cabinet reshuffled happened in July 2016 in which the Modi government introduced 19 new faces and promoted MoS for Environment Prakash Javadekar to cabinet ministry. It looks like that the Modi government wants to show the public that they are serious about their work and will make/change ministers on the basis of merit and performances.