Another reshuffle likely soon as sulking NDA members eye six vacancies
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Another reshuffle likely soon as sulking NDA members eye six vacancies

Another expansion is likely in the coming months to accommodate NDA members who were not included in the Union council of ministers in Sunday’s reshuffle.

india Updated: Sep 04, 2017 07:49 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister,Narendra Modi,Union council of ministers
President Ram Nath Kovind, vice president Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose with new Cabinet ministers after the reshuffle at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday. None of the BJP allies made it to the council of ministers. (PTI)

The reshuffle of Union council of ministers on Sunday may not be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last such exercise before the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. An expansion is expected in the next few months as Modi can still accommodate six more ministers in his team.

According to the Constitution, the total number of members in the council of ministers, including the Prime Minister, must not exceed 15% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha, which comes to 82. At present, there are 76 Union ministers, including the Prime Minister.

Sunday’s reshuffle centered around the BJP only and did not involve any of its allies, including the Janata Dal (United), which walked out of the grand alliance in Bihar in July to return to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after four years.

Bihar chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar had dumped the NDA in September 2013 after the BJP named Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.

There was intense speculation that two JD(U) leaders -- RCP Singh and Ramnath Thakur – would be inducted in the Union council of ministers.

While several ministers are holding concurrent charges, the first indication of another reshuffle taking place soon came from the JD(U) which sounded hopeful of joining the Modi government. “You never know after 15-30 days there might be another reshuffle. We should be part of the cabinet,” JD(U) Lok Sabha MP Kaushalendra Kumar said.

The Shiv Sena, which is the BJP’s oldest alliance partner, has for long been sulking and demanding one more Cabinet berth with an important portfolio. Its Lok Sabha MP Anant Geete is already a Cabinet minister.

An angry Shiv Sena reacted sharply to the reshuffle exercise. “NDA is almost dead. It exists only on paper. BJP remembers us only when it needs some support,” party MP Sanjay Raut said.

“We are not hungry for a portfolio or power. The reshuffle is a game of figures for political reasons and we will take appropriate stand at the right time,” he added.

The AIADMK, which is battling internal dissension, too might join the NDA once the dust settles in the southern party.

But Modi will have to keep the bench strength of NDA allies in mind before inducting their members in his government. While the AIADMK has 50 Members of Parliament – 37 in Lok Sabha and 13 in Rajya Sabha, the Shiv Sena’s strength is 21 – 18 in Lok Sabha and three in Rajya Sabha. The JD(U) has 12 MPs – 10 in Rajya Sabha and 2 in Lok Sabha.

First Published: Sep 03, 2017 16:41 IST