Home HEADLINES Modi to expand ministry Sunday afternoon, 16 new ministers likely

Modi to expand ministry Sunday afternoon, 16 new ministers likely

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New Delhi, Nov 8 :

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to reshuffle and expand his cabinet Sunday to inject fresh talent, give wider representation to states and ease pressure on some ministers.

The event is scheduled to take place at the Durbar hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan at 1.30 p.m. Sunday.

MODISources said 16 new names will be included in the cabinet.

This will be the first cabinet reshuffle since Modi took power in May after leading the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a historic win in the Lok Sabha election.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who resigned Saturday, is widely tipped to become the new defence minister, divesting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of one of his portfolios.

BJP sources said Parrikar may be inducted into the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, where the party has 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha members.

Sunday’s event will take place before the start of parliament’s winter session Nov 24, giving time to the new ministers to familiarise themselves with the working of their ministries.

Bandaru Dattatreya from Telangana and Sujana Chowdary from Andhra Pradesh are likely to be inducted into the union cabinet.

Dattatreya, a national vice president of the BJP, is a Lok Sabha member from Secunderabad.

Chowdary belongs to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and is a Rajya Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh.

Modi telephoned the two parliamentarians Saturday morning and asked them to be in Delhi Sunday morning, sources in the two parties said.

Dattatreya is the lone BJP parliamentarian from Telangana and his inclusion will give representation to the newly created state in the union council of ministers.

Chowdary, a businessman, is a first-time parliamentarian and is considered close to TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu.

The widespread feeling is that Modi would like to make his government more broad-based vis-a-vis the geographical spread of his party.

New ministers may be taken from Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar besides Haryana and Maharashtra — two states where the BJP was elected to power for the first time last month.

Among the names doing the rounds are J.P. Nadda (Himachal Pradesh), Jayant Sinha (Jharkhand), Ram Kripal Yadav, Girirraj Singh (both Bihar), Vijay Sampala (Punjab), Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Niranjan Jyoti (both Uttar Pradesh), Sanwar Lal Jat (Rajasthan) and Birender Singh (Haryana).

The name of former union minister Suresh Prabhu is also on the list. However, his party Shiv Sena did not appear happy about it Saturday.

Modi is believed to be keen to induct Prabhu – whose performance in critical ministries in the NDA-I had been praised by all parties – and may give him the responsibility of the railways portfolio.

“We have many more experienced and deserving MPs who need to be encouraged. The party is not clear how this will come (Prabhu’s inclusion in the cabinet) from our (Shiv Sena) quota. We are still discussing it and will finalise the decision shortly,” a Shiv Sena leader told IANS, requesting anonymity.

Babul Supriyo, a singer-turned-politician from West Bengal is also expected to be in the list, with West Bengal BJP president Rahul Sinha saying Modi had called Supriyo and informed him of the decision to make him a minister.

Olympic medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore also appears to be on the list, according to the sources.

The Modi government now has 22 cabinet members and 22 ministers of state, some holding independent charge.

Many ministers, including Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Prakash Javadekar, Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal, hold multiple ministries.

With Modi repeatedly emphasising that his government will work on the mantra of “minimum government, maximum governance”, the size of the union council of ministers is not expected to be large.

In the union cabinet, at least six people are currently handling more than one portfolio.

Topping the list is Jaitley who holds both the finance and defence portfolios, and is now expected to be replaced by Parrikar in one of the two.

Others who have more than one responsibility include Gadkari, who has road transport and holds additional charge of the rural development ministry; Ravi Shankar Prasad, who has the law ministry and holds additional charge of the IT and communications ministry; Prakash Javadekar who has independent charge of both the environment ministry and information and broadcasting; and Piyush Goyal, who has the power ministry as well as additional charge of the coal and mines ministry.

(IANS)