The much-awaited expansion of the Narendra Modi government may see around a dozen new faces joining the government, sometime after the current session of Parliament gets over on August 14.
The exercise is likely to focus on giving fair representation to the states and rewarding talent. Modi’s current team comprises 44 ministers – 22 of cabinet rank and an equal number of ministers of state.
Hazaribagh MP Jayant Sinha — son of former finance minister Yashwant Sinha — could be made minister of state in the finance ministry.
Nirmala Sitharaman may retain independent charge of the ministry of commerce and industry and be relieved of the finance ministry.
BJP general secretary JP Nadda is also among the frontrunners for a ministerial seat. A Rajya Sabha MP from Himachal Pradesh, Nadda recently lost to Amit Shah in the race to become BJP president.
The Prime Minister is expected to reshuffle the portfolios of senior ministers to accommodate new faces and lessen the burden of leaders looking after two or three ministries, a source claimed. Prakash Javadekar, Ravishankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal and a couple of others are among those handling two or more ministries.
Among the possible newcomers, Ajmer MP Sanwar Lal Jat and Rajya Sabha MP Bhupendra Yadav are favourites for the two new ministerial positions Rajasthan may get. Ganganagar MP Nihalchand is presently the sole representative in Modi’s council of ministers from the state, where the BJP won all 25 Lok Sabha seats.
Uttarakhand – another state that saw a BJP clean sweep in the general elections –two former chief ministers are in the fray for possible cabinet berths. Though Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and Ramesh Pokhiryal Nishank are both in the running, Ramdev – who supported the party in the Lok Sabha polls -- is said to be backing Nishank.
Asansol MP Babul Supriyo is also banking on Ramdev’s support to shore up his ministerial prospects. Supriyo – one of the two BJP MPs from West Bengal – has already admitted in a vernacular newspaper that Ramdev’s recommendation got him the party ticket for the Lok Sabha polls.
From Maharashtra, Chandrapur MP Hansraj Gangaram Ahir and Ahmednagar MP Dilip Gandhi are seen as likely to fill the cabinet vacancy created due to the death of Gopinath Munde.
One ministerial berth may go to the Shiv Sena and Apna Dal, BJP’s allies in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh respectively. Secundarabad MP Bandaru Dattatrey is also a probable candidate from Telangana.