PM Modi’s first cabinet reshuffle, Arun Jaitley may lose I&B ministry


Tuesday may see the first reshuffle in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet with Arun Jaitley likely to lose the key Information and Broadcasting ministry. There may also be six resignations, say sources.

PTI reported that a total of 19 new ministers, some from Dalit community, are set to be inducted in the expansion of the Union Council of Ministers on Tuesday, an exercise being done ahead of Assembly polls in UP and a few other states next year.

According to sources on Monday night, the expansion-cum-reshuffle being carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to see elevation of at least one minister to Cabinet rank. Some of the 19 new ministers are expected to get Independent charge, the sources said.

Ahead of the expansion, Modi was quoted as saying that Tueday’s expansion of his ministry will reflect “budget focus and priorities”.

In the expansion, the second since Modi took over in May, 2014, new faces like Anupriya Patel, an OBC Lok Sabha member of ally Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh, besides BJP MPs SS Ahluwalia (West Bengal) and Purshottam Rupala, a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat, may be inducted.

Krishna Raj, a dalit woman MP from Uttar Pradesh, Mahendra Nath Pandey, a Brahmin face in the state, Ajay Tamta, a dalit MP from Uttarakhand, which also goes to polls next year, also figure in the list of probables.

Arjun Ram Meghwal, a dalit BJP MP from Rajasthan, Ramdas Athawale, another dalit leader and RPI MP from Maharashtra, can get ministerial berths besides Subhash Ramrao Bhamre, who is also from Maharashtra, and Mansukhbhai Mandaviya, a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat.

The names of Rajya Sabha MPs Vijay Goel, MJ Akbar, Anil Madhav Dave and PP Chaudhary, Lok Sabha member from Rajasthan, have also been doing the rounds as possible inductions.

Faggan Singh Kulhaste, who was embroiled in the cash-for-votes scam during the UPA-1 rule, CR Chaudhary(Gujarat), Jasvantsinh Bhabhor(Gujarat) Rajen Gohain(Assam) and Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi(Karnataka) ae also likely to be inducted.

Many of these leaders today met party chief Amit Shah, who is also likely to announce the party’s organisational team soon.

Frank Noronha, Principal spokesperson of the government, tweeted on Monday that the cabinet expansion will take place on Tuesday at 11 am.
There is also a vacancy in the Council of Ministers after Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal became the Chief Minister of Assam.
The first expansion had occurred in November 2014.

There are currently 64 Union ministers, including the Prime Minister, and there can be a maximum of 82 of them under a constitutional bar.
The sources said the expansion comes after an exhaustive vetting and selection process to find the best talent. People were assessed on the value they would bring to the Union Council of Ministers, they said.

The sources said this marks a firm departure from the usual routine of frequent changes based on caste, religion and other time serving political considerations and is a firm endorsement of developmental politics that the prime minister champions.

The selection was based on the new ministers’ professional expertise, experiences in both Centre and states besides keeping the youth factor in mind.

(With inputs from PTI)