Modi’s mega reshuffle on the cards as vacancies pile up in govt, party & Raj Bhavans
That Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to carry out a major reshuffle in his Cabinet has been speculated for weeks. However, Delhi's power corridors are abuzz now with speculation of an impending reshuffle not just in the Cabinet, but in the BJP as well as in a number of Raj Bhavans.
Sources have told Catch that personal staff of a large number of Cabinet ministers and ministers of state are looking for future employment avenues. They are said to have picked up strongly on plans for a massive Cabinet reshuffle. At least 25 senior and junior ministers are likely to be dropped, according to sources.
Modi government has completed more than half of its term and the country appears to be already gearing up for the next Lok Sabha polls. The government is talking about its road-map for 2022 and the Opposition parties are trying to put in place a joint strategy for 2019. The period from now to elections will be crucial and BJP appears to be putting in place a team against that background.
Vacancies in the Cabinet
There are several vacancies in the Cabinet because of several reasons. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been handling additional charge of the Defence Ministry after Manohar Parrikar resigned from the Cabinet to become Chief Minister of Goa. Defence Ministry needs full-time attention and therefore a vacant berth lies there.
Science & Technology minister Harsh Vardhan has been looking after the Environment Ministry as well, following the death of Anil Dave.
Ministries of Information & Broadcasting and Urban Development are also being held as additional charges after the resignation of M Venkaiah Naidu. Naidu is all set to take oath as Vice-President of India.
Kalraj Mishra, Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, has turned 76, crossing Modi's un-written eligibility criteria for a ministerial berth of 75 years.
It is also being speculated that chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh respectively, could also be asked to resign and take up Cabinet positions. Both states are poll-bound and it is rumored that Modi isn't comfortable with the prospect of either of them winning yet another term as CM.
Space for new allies
JD(U)'s return to the NDA has given rise to new calculations within the alliance. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is still in power, in spite of resigning, because BJP extended support to him. Now that a large number of BJP's MLAs and MLCs have joined Kumar's Cabinet, JD(U) is said to have asked for at least two berths in the Union Cabinet as well, in return. Purnia MP Santosh Kumar and Rajya Sabha member Ram Chandra Prasad Singh are said to be in the running for the same.
All eyes are on AIADMK as well since a merger of its two factions has been talked about for a while now. Sources say once the merger happens, AIADMK will officially join the NDA and one or two of its MPs will get a place in the Union Cabinet. The name of Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha, M Thambidurai, is doing the rounds as a possible minister.
Sources also told Catch that the party is also likely to be go for an organisational overhaul as there are multiple vacancies in the party organisation too. In Uttar Pradesh, national vice president Dinesh Sharma has become Deputy Chief Minister and secretaries Shrikant Sharma, Sidharth Nath Singh, Mahendra Singh and OBC Morcha chief Dara Singh Chauhan have also been appointed ministers in the Yogi Adiyanath Cabinet.
Keshav Prasad Maurya had also resigned as chief of the party's UP unit after his appointment as Deputy Chief Minister.
Dinesh Sharma was also in-charge of Gujarat and Shrikant Sharma in-charge of Himachal Pradesh. These states too are poll-bound and will need new in-charges. Such vacancies exist in West Bengal and Assam too, as Sidharth Nath Singh was in-charge of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh and Mahendra Singh was in-charge of Assam.
Of the appointments made in 2014, two national vice presidents Bandaru Dattatreya and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and two general secretaries J.P. Nadda, and Rajiv Pratap Rudy have joined the Union government.
Vacancies have emerged in several Raj Bhavans too. West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi is also acting Governor of Bihar after Ram Nath Kovind resigned from Patna Raj Bhavan.
Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao is functioning as acting Governor of Tamil Nadu.
Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan also has additional charge of Telangana.
Nagaland Governor Padmanabha Acharya has additional charge of Arunachal Pradesh.
Gujarat Governor Om Prakash Kohli has additional charge of Madhya Pradesh.
Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit has additional charge of Meghalaya.
Sources have said that all these changes in the Union Cabinet, in BJP and in the Raj Bhavans will happen back to back from 18 to 20 August.