- Civilian killings continue unabated in Kashmir, two more non-locals shot dead in Srinagar and Pulwama
- Congress slams 'catastrophic mishandling' of economy, asks Centre to reduce excise duty on fuel
- Will discuss BSF issue with Amit Shah; Centre trying to destabilize non-BJP governed states: Sharad Pawar
Modi cabinet reshuffle: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may undertake a major rejig of his cabinet ahead of the Assembly elections scheduled for next year and an announcement to this effect may come anytime soon. There are several vacant positions in the cabinet with several ministers handling additional charges of different ministries. A sense of secrecy and surprise has been the hallmark of PM Modi’s decisions of this scale and second-guessing his mind has turned out to be futile more often than not in the past. While there has been no formal announcement of any such exercise yet, rumour mills are abuzz with names of likely candidates who may find a place in a rejigged cabinet. Several reports have claimed that PM Modi may opt for expanding his cabinet very soon and he is likely to keep in mind the assembly elections due next years in states like Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Gujarat. His eyes will also be on the 2024 general elections and some faces with mass appeal may also find a place in his cabinet.
One name which has been doing rounds for a while now is former Congressman and now BJP Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia. With Scindia looking for responsibility beyond the state, as reported, he might get a cabinet berth. Another face in waiting is the former union minister as well as former Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal. Since he vacated the CM post of Himanta Biswa Sarma, it’s most likely that he will return to the Centre with a new responsibility.
While the selection of faces from other states may not trouble the BJP, Bihar may be a headache for the saffron party. On one hand, there is Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) which is expecting two cabinet berths, on the other, waiting in the lobby is Sushil Modi, who had to vacate the Deputy CM’s post for his colleagues.
Then there is the divided house of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) which is facing an existential crisis after the demise of Ram Vilas Paswan. While Chirag Paswan is eagerly waiting for a call from the BJP to return to the NDA cabinet, he also fears that his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, who led a coup against him, may bag the seat.
Maharashtra leader Narayan Rane and Bhupendra Yadav are also in the list of probable faces. With the Uttar Pradesh election being the most crucial and immediate, faces like Varun Gandhi, Ramshankar Katheria, Anil Jain, Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Zafar Islam may find a place in the new cabinet. The BJP’s allies from states may also find a place in the cabinet with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
There are 53 ministers at present and the Cabinet has space for 28 new faces. Leaders from Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Haryana may also find a place in the new cabinet.