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Cabinet rejig around the corner, berths likely for new NDA entrants

Prime Minister Narendra Modi last expanded his team in July 2016 when he inducted 19 new faces.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2017 08:26 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Brics summit,Narendra Modi,Janata Dal (United)
Modi leaves for China for a Brics summit in the port city of Xiamen from September 3-5 and will be in Myanmar for a day before returning home on September 7.(PTI File Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will be out of India from September 3 for four days, was expected to reshuffle his council of ministers soon, sources said.

Modi leaves for China for a Brics summit in the port city of Xiamen from September 3-5 and will be in Myanmar for a day before returning home on September 7.

Given that the Shradh, or Pitru Paksh, considered an inauspicious period, will run from September 6 to 19, sources said it was possible that the much-awaited exercise was carried out before Modi leaves for China.

He, however, has given no indication to government or party colleagues about the timing of the third ministerial reshuffle.

Modi last expanded his team in July 2016 when he inducted 19 new faces, dropped five and promoted Prakash Javadekar to the cabinet rank. He also demoted two ministers of state by divesting them of their independent charge.

Cabinet vacancies and the return of the Janata Dal (United) to the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) fold have necessitated a reshuffle.

Last week, rail minister Suresh Prabhu offered to resign following back-back to derailments -- at least 20 people were killed when Kalinga Utkal Express crash -- but was told by Modi to “wait”.

Venkaiah Naidu quit the cabinet in July to successfully contest the vice-presidential election. His urban development portfolio was given to rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar as additional charge and information and broadcasting ministry was assigned to textiles minister Smriti Irani.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley is also holding additional charge of defence after Manohar Parrikar moved to Goa as the chief minister.

Science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan has been doubling up as the environment and forests minister after the death of Anil Dave.

Two JD(U) members are expected to find a place in Modi’s team. While AIADMK is said to be keen to join the NDA, sources said a final call would be taken only after Tamil Nadu’s ruling party, riven by factional fights, puts its house in order.

BJP chief Amit Shah last week met Union ministers Birender Singh, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Upendra Kushwaha separately, triggering speculation that the ruling party chief was consulting those whose fate could be decided in the reshuffle.

BJP sources, however, denied it, saying the PM was yet to speak on the issue.

First Published: Aug 30, 2017 22:45 IST