There are 53 ministers in the union cabinet and the total strength may go up to 81.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to revamp his cabinet this week, the first such exercise in the second term of the NDA, The Indian Express reported today. The Modi government is factoring in many issues including the impact of COVID-19, upcoming assembly elections, the monsoon session of parliament and building stronger alliances in the run-up to the 2024 General Elections.
The buzz around a rejigged Council of Ministers gathered pace after PM Modi started assessing the performance of key ministries with senior ministers and the party leadership. The government, and the party, however, are tight-lipped on the entire exercise and there has been no official word on the development so far. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was recently asked about the cabinet reshuffle, and he refused to comment on it.
Meanwhile, Sarbananda Sonowal is arriving in Delhi today, two weeks after he held a meeting with PM Modi in the national capital. Sonowal vacated Assam CM’s chair for Himanta Biswa Sarma and is likely to return to the Centre.
With the Uttar Pradesh election due next year and the government facing criticism over its handling of COVID-19 second wave, the focus may be on accommodating leaders and allies from this crucial state. Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi and Apna Dal, an NDA ally in UP, are expected to find a place in the central government.
The cabinet restructuring may also factor in situations in other poll-bound states like Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa. Jyotiraditya Scindia, who joined the BJP last year and played a crucial role in BJP’s return to power in Madhya Pradesh is expected to be rewarded with a cabinet berth.
The recent political developments in Bihar may also help the Modi government give shape to his new cabinet. Sushil Modi, who is waiting for a possible compensation at the Centre since relinquishing the Bihar Deputy CM’s post, and Pashupati Kumar Paras, who led a coup against his nephew Chirag Paswan, may find a place in the new cabinet. However, it will be interesting to see what happens with Chirag Paswan, who claims to be Modi’s ‘Hanuman’. Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) has also expressed its desire to be part of the union government and may get two berths.
There are 53 ministers in the union cabinet and the total strength may go up to 81. Therefore, PM Modi has space for accommodating 28 new faces.