Cabinet Reshuffle Likely On Thursday


New Delhi: Going by the arrangements planned at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is preparing to rejig his Council of Ministers on Thursday.

The Ashoka Hall at President’s House is being readied for a ceremony at noon, followed by lunch for attending dignitaries. Earlier, a high tea had been planned at the same venue for Thursday evening, which was to follow the Council’s meeting ostensibly to review the performances of ministers — at 10:30 am.

That meeting has been rescheduled for 4 pm. With Uttar Pradesh elections due next year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to keep regional and caste balances in mind for his council of ministers.

Sources told PM is unlikely to make changes in key ministries. Union Minister of State for Chemical and Fertilizers Nihal Chand could be dropped from the government while Arjun Meghwal, another senior leader from Rajasthan, could be inducted, sources said.

Other names doing the rounds as possible entrants are Jabalpur MP Rakesh Singh and Mangaldoi (Assam) MP Raman Deka. BJP vice-president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, who recently became Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra, is also being considered.

Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections, the PM is also likely to elevate Sanjeev Balyan, MoS for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, as minister with independent charge. There were indications that the BJP would like to see Apna Dal MP Anupriya Patel in the government, as the party is focusing on non-Yadav OBC votes in the state.

While Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s Sports and Youth Affairs portfolio is vacant, MoS for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla who has been appointed Punjab BJP chief could also be relieved. Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla could be dropped from the government.