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Age, infighting scuttle MPs’ chances of Cabinet berth

Party insiders, however, feel barring Nishank, none stands a chance. “Nishank (55) does stand a chance as he has a firm grip over the party’s organisational wing and age too is on his side,” said a senior BJP leader. According to him, Nishank can get the slot of the Union minister of state at the most but that too wouldn’t be easy. “The reason is Nishank’s rivals within our party have badly sullied his reputation in the eyes of our central leaders.”

dehradun Updated: Jul 18, 2017 21:05 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,Modi Cabinet,BC Khanduri
NDA vice presidential candidate Venkaiah Naidu with chief minister S Rawat during his recent visit to Dehradun. (HT FILE)

DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand BJP doesn’t appear optimistic about any of its remaining four Parliamentarians landing a berth in the Union Cabinet despite rumours that Prime Minister Narendra Modi might soon expand his Council of Ministers.

With the BJP announcing Union minister Venkaiah Naidu as its candidate for the August 5 vice-presidential election, the Cabinet rejig appears imminent. It appears on the cards also because finance minister Arun Jaitley and science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan are holding extra charge of two portfolios.

But the reports of a likely Cabinet reshuffle have failed to generate excitement among the BJP leaders. Incidentally, all the five MPs from Uttarakhand are from BJP. Only one of them — Almora MP Ajay Tamta — has got a berth in the Union Cabinet. Modi inducted the party’s Dalit face into his Cabinet in July last year.

The rest four — BC Khanduri (Pauri), Bhagat Singh Koshiyari (Nainital), Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank (Haridwar) and Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah (Tehri) have been waiting for their chance. Khanduri, Koshiyari and Nishank have helmed the state as chief ministers.

Party insiders, however, feel barring Nishank, none stands a chance. “Nishank (55) does stand a chance as he has a firm grip over the party’s organisational wing and age too is on his side,” said a senior BJP leader. According to him, Nishank can get the slot of the Union minister of state at the most but that too wouldn’t be easy. “The reason is Nishank’s rivals within our party have badly sullied his reputation in the eyes of our central leaders.”

Party insiders said, adding worse were the chances of the remaining three BJP parliamentarians. According to them, Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah, for instance, doesn’t stand a chance as she is not efficient enough to shoulder the responsibilities that go with a Union minister portfolio.

“The other two parliamentarians—Khanduri and Koshiyari - are out of reckoning owing to the age factor,” said a BJP leader, adding that octogenarian Khanduri is long past the 75-plus age limit Modi had set for inducting his party men into the Union Cabinet. “Koshiyari too is out of reckoning as he is nearing 75.”.

Officially, however, the BJP refused to comment on the issue. “Constitutionally, selecting members of his Cabinet is the Prime Minister’s sole prerogative. So, I can’t make any comment on whether he will induct some of the parliamentarians from our state into his Cabinet or not,” BJP state president Ajay Bhatt said.

First Published: Jul 18, 2017 21:05 IST