Cabinet reshuffle set in motion as Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Uma Bharti, Kalraj Mishra resign
Sources in the party said that at least three other ministers were likely to quit, including small and medium enterprises minister Kalraj Mishra and water resources minister Uma Bharti. Nitin Gadkari may get railways.Updated: Sep 01, 2017 10:26 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi set in motion the reshuffle of his council of ministers with the resignation of at least half-a-dozen ministers, according to sources in the ruling BJP and the government.
Small and medium enterprises minister Kalraj Mishra, water resources and Ganga rejuvenation minister Uma Bharti, skill development minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, minister of state for human resource development Mahendra Nath Pandey and minister of state for water resources Sanjiv Baliyan have quit the government.
There were speculations about some other ministers resigning but HT couldn’t independently confirm.
While Bharti met BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday, Mishra called on him on Thursday. Party sources said these were routine meetings.
Rudy was among three ministers — the other two were steel minister Choudhury Birendra Singh and minister of state for human resource development Upendra Kushwaha — who met the BJP president last week.
One of the ministers who submitted his resignation to party general secretary (organisation) Ram Lal on Thursday told HT that he had been asked to step down. Even during the last reshuffle in July last year, sources said, ministers were asked to submit their resignations to the party leadership first.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be out of the country from September 3 to September 7 for the Brics summit in China and a state visit to Myanmar. President Ram Nath Kovind is scheduled to visit Tirupati on Friday and will return to Delhi on Saturday afternoon, making September 2 the most likely date for the reshuffle.
The latest reshuffle will be the third after Modi came to power in 2014.
Among the ministers who resigned, Pandey was named the Uttar Pradesh BJP chief earlier in the day, and insiders said that Rudy may also be allotted organisational responsibilities.
The latest round of resignations will add to the vacancies already created after defence minister Manohar Parrikar became the Goa chief minister, urban development and information & broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu quit to become vice-president, and environment minister Anil Dave died after a prolonged illness this May.
Finance and corporate affairs minister Arun Jaitley was given the additional charge of defence, while Smriti Irani got the additional portfolio of information and broadcasting. Science minister Harsh Vardhan was allotted the environment ministry.
At an event on Thursday, when Jaitley was asked how long he would have dual charge of the finance and defence ministries, he had replied: “At least, I hope, not very long.”
Sources added that in the upcoming reshuffle, the NDA’s latest partner — Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) — may bag at least one berth. Kumar had left the NDA in 2013 but returned dramatically last month, dumping his poll partners Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress to renew an alliance with the BJP.
Modi’s last reshuffle was in July 2016 when he brought in 19 new faces and promoted Prakash Javadekar to the Cabinet.
Unconfirmed reports say transport and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari may get additional responsibility of railways.
There is speculation whether some ministers will shed additional portfolios and if railway minister Suresh Prabhu will retain his position after two back-to-back derailments, killing at least 20 people, led him to take responsibility and offer to quit. Modi didn’t accept the resignation, and asked him to wait.
(With inputs from agencies)