New Delhi: More than 10 new ministers will be inducted into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers on Sunday morning at 10 am in a big cabinet revamp. Sources said those who will take oath have to be in Delhi by this evening. Since late Thursday night, at least eight ministers, including Uma Bharti, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjeev Balyan, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Kalraj Mishra and Bandaru Dattatreya have resigned to make way for new faces.
Sources have said that Uma Bharti, who refused to comment on her resignation on Friday, is unlikely to be dropped from cabinet, may get a new assignment. Rail minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to get another portfolio, possibly defence, while his junior minister Manoj Sinha could be elevated in the ministry. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad too could get a new ministry.
A new Defence Minister is also on cards, say sources. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley took an additional job as Defence Minister after Manohar Parrikar was shifted to Goa as Chief Minister, he currently handles both key departments.
The cabinet reshaping – the third in as many years – has been due for months now, especially in the scenario of vacancies and shifting alliances. At least two members from the BJP’s new partner, the Janata Dal United of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar – Ram Chandra Prasad Singh and Santosh Kushwaha are tipped to be ministers.
Evictions from the cabinet are based only on performance after a review, the sources said, with PM Modi clear he wants ministers who perform and work hard. A performance review of ministers and their rating was reportedly submitted to PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, and it was the reference point when decisions were taken on changes to the cabinet.
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh could be asked to go, sources said, though he denied any knowledge of his exit.
The mega exercise is expected to fill key cabinet vacancies and also bring into the council of ministers, leaders from states where elections will be held soon.
Sadananda Gowda, who was demoted from Law to Statistics and Programme Implementation in the last reshuffle, and who has not been among the best performers, is unlikely to lose his place in the cabinet because of elections in his state Karnataka next year.
Two more BJP leaders from Karnataka could become ministers as the BJP tries to wrest the state back from the Congress.
Bhupendra Yadav, who is the BJP’s man in-charge of Gujarat, is among those likely to be made a minister. The assembly elections are due in the state by the end of the year. BJP chief Amit Shah has set a massive target of winning 150 seats of the 182 seats in Gujarat and an A-list central team led by Mr Jaitley will shape election strategy.
Prahlad Singh Patel, who is from Madhya Pradesh, another state where elections will be held next year, could also be made a minister.
The name of BJP Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra Vinay Sahasrabuddhe who is a party idealogue is doing the rounds as a possible new minister. As is that of Satyapal Singh, former police commissioner of Mumbai who defeated Uttar Pradesh politician Ajit Singh in his bastion Baghpat in the 2014 national election.