New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will announce a new set of council of ministers on Sunday, sources in the government have confirmed. The swearing-in ceremony will take place at around 10 am, at Rashtrapati Bhawan, a first under newly-elected President Ram Nath Kovind. This will be Prime Minister Modi’s third — and perhaps final — reshuffle. “A process has been set in motion for the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan around 10 am on Sunday,” a government official said.
Following the swearing-in ceremony, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for China on Sunday afternoon, to attend the BRICS Summit.
Speculation that a reshuffle was on the cards grew after BJP president Amit Shah met with several union ministers and informed some of them that they will be assigned party work in the build up to the elections to key state assemblies of Gujarat, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, due in coming months. The new reshuffle could also see MPs from these states getting posts in the new council.
As of now, four junior ministers – Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjiv Kumar Balyan, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahendra Nath Pandey – have resigned from their positions. Union Cabinet Minister Uma Bharti also offered to resign, but there was no official word yet. Last week, following several instances of train derailments, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu also offered to resign, but he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to ‘wait’.
There are, currently, three vacancies in the Council of Ministers, arising out of the exit of former Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, who resigned to return as chief minister of Goa, and Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who resigned and is now Vice President of India and the passing of Anil Madhav Dave who was MoS Environment and Climate Change (Independent Charge).
Late last night, Shah reportedly drove down to Prime Minister Modi’s official residence to perhaps discuss the final list of the reshuffle. There was, however, no official confirmation of their meeting.