An expansion of the Union Cabinet is expected on Sunday in which about 10 new leaders, including Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, are likely to be inducted in an exercise that may also cover some allies.
Indications are that the reshuffle could take place around 1.30 pm, two days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves on a three-nation 10-day tour. By then, President Pranab Mukherjee would have also returned on Saturday from a trip to Bhutan.
There is a possibility some ministers with independent charge could be elevated in the first recasting of Modi’s council of ministers since he assumed power in May. Parrikar, who is tipped to get the defence portfolio, went as far as to indicate the sure possibility of his induction when he said he will take up the responsibility at the Centre “if the nation requires” his services.
Among the names doing the rounds for induction are Jayant Sinha, son of former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, Anurag Thakur, son of former Himachal Pradesh CM PK Dhumal, Haryana Jat leader Birender Singh, Bhumiar leader from Bihar Giriraj Singh, Col Sonaram Chaudhary and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, both of Rajasthan, and Hansraj Ahir from Maharashtra.
An IIT-Mumbai graduate and a man with a clean image, Parrikar had a meeting with Modi and BJP [resident Amit Shah on Friday. He also met party MLAs in Panaji on Thursday, possibly discussing his successor.
He said Shah had asked him to take up an assignment at the Centre, if offered, and made it clear that he was willing to shoulder the responsibility.
“Party President Amit Shah spoke to me in the morning and asked me to accept any assignment that would be given by the Prime Minister,” he told reporters.
However, he did not disclose whether Modi had offered him the defence portfolio during their meeting on Wednesday. “I want to give proper information as far as joining the cabinet is concerned. It is the prerogative of the Prime Minister. However, I would like to inform that the party has indicated to me that if such assignment comes, you should accept it,” he said.