Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to undertake a cabinet reshuffle after the end of the current budget session of Parliament in May. The reshuffle is expected to follow a similar party-level exercise to be conducted by BJP president Amit Shah.
Both reshuffles are likely between May 10 and May 30. Modi completes two years in office on May 26. Authoritative sources told HT that while the reshuffle exercise of new inductions and dropping under-performing ministers is still to begin, minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla and small and medium enterprises minister Kalraj Mishra may have to go due to an age bar of 75 in the Modi cabinet.
Union sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who is the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for poll-bound Assam, has already opted out by becoming president of the party’s state unit.
“Ideally, it should be a significant reshuffle of the cabinet as there are only 70 ministers (allowed strength is 81) but this depends on the residual bench strength of the BJP and the results of state elections on May 19. The reshuffle will also be undertaken keeping in mind the forthcoming Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka state elections,” said a party office-bearer.
The cabinet reshuffle will follow the party reshuffle where Shah has prepared a list of at least 30 young leaders in each state, keeping the regional social composition in mind. The party is apparently concerned about the quality of its leadership in states such as Delhi and Punjab and may induct fresh blood to rejuvenate these outfits.
There is the possibility that a couple of Union ministers may be sent back to the party, particularly to strengthen its communications wing as veteran BJP leaders with close to 50 years of experience have taken on gubernatorial assignments or special government projects. The BJP plans to build strong units in the east and north-east, keeping in view the 2019 general elections.