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Speculations high as PM Narendra Modi set to expand ministry - third time in as many years

Saturday September 2, 2017 10:51 PM, & Agencies

Modi Cabinet

New Delhi:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to expand his Cabinet Sunday September 03 hours before he is scheduled to depart to China to attend BRICS Summit. This is the third time Prime Minister Modi will reshuffle his cabinet.

The first Cabinet under Modi which included 23 ministers was formed when he was elected as India’s 15th Prime Minister in May 2014. In November the same year, he expanded his Cabinet, bringing in 21 new faces and re-allotting key portfolios.

Though there is no official announcement, media reports citing sources said nine new ministers - all from the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), will take oath on Sunday. Simultaenously, some existing ministers will be promoted and some others will be allotted new portfolios.

The focus however is on Minister of Defence and Ministrt of Railways. The Ministry of Defence is currently under Arun Jaitley, who is also Finance Minister.

For Railways, Minitser Suresh Prabhu has offered to resign after a series of accidents in the last one month. He is expected to be allotted new portfolio.

Earlier, six BJP ministers, including senior leader Rajive Pratap Singh Rudy, had resigned to make space for the new ministers. It is said the minisers have been told to resign because of non-performance.

The new faces whose names are taking round in the media include BJP MPs Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Bihar), Virendra Kumar (Madhya Pradesh) and Shiv Pratap Shukla (Uttar Pradesh).

The others are Anant Kumar Hegde, Raj Kumar Singh, Hardeep Puri, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Satyapal Singh and Alphons Kannanthanam.

A surprise factor is the absence of any member of the BJP's allies such as the JD(U) and the Shiv Sena from the list.

Though top BJP leaders maintained silence on the development, sources in the party said the JD(U) and the Shiv Sena not figuring in the list was likely due to lack of a formula for representation which could satisfy all allies.

The Sena, with 18 Lok Sabha members against two from the JD(U), wanted its share of representation in line with that of the Nitish Kumar-led party, which would have meant several more berths for the Maharashtra party, a demand the BJP did not concede, the sources said.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Sena has three members while the JD(U) has 10.

Earlier in the day, Nitish Kumar claimed in Patna that no talks between the BJP and his party were held on the issue, while Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said he had received no communication from the bigger ally.


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