Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to reshuffle and expand his cabinet after Parliament’s monsoon session. The exercise, aimed at strengthening the agriculture ministry, could also see the inclusion of some ministers of state to lessen the burden on defence minister Arun Jaitley and home minister Rajnath Singh.
Though the final decision on the issue has not been taken, discussions within the Modi government and the BJP indicate that the exercise could take place after August 14 to fill up the vacancy in rural development and panchayati raj ministry after the death of Gopinath Munde last month.
"It will also factor in unrepresented states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal… as well as take into account the performances of incumbent ministers in the past two months," said a senior minister.
According to the internal discussions, there is a need to assign another competent minister of state in defence as both the party and the government feel that Jaitley cannot continue to fire on all cylinders indefinitely. Jaitley currently holds the charge of finance, defence, corporate affairs, oversight of economic ministries and also functions as Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha.
Giving another minister of state, besides Kiren Rijiju, to home minister Rajnath Singh is also in the plans. The new minister may get the specific brief of looking at the Centre-state relations. With the threat of a deficient monsoon not fully over yet, there is a suggestion that a more experienced leader should take charge of the agriculture ministry to tackle the near-drought situation.
With the NDA, particularly the BJP leadership, admitting that there is a need to improve the bench strength of Modi’s government, the PM may look at the younger, former ministers in the previous Atal Bihari Vajpayee government who were left out of the May 26 swearing-in ceremony.