Many new faces may join Modi Govt on Sunday

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Sep 2017 08:02:08


Sept 1,


SEVERAL new faces, including some from the BJP’s allies, are expected to join the Government when Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertakes a reshuffle of his council of ministers on Sunday. “A process has been set in motion for the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan at around 10 am on Sunday, as the PM would be leaving for China in the afternoon to attend the BRICS Summit,” a top Government official said.

Four junior ministers - Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjiv Kumar Balyan, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahendra Nath Pandey - have resigned ahead of the rejig. Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya is also learnt to have resigned on Friday. Two Cabinet ministers, Uma Bharti and Kalraj Mishra, have also offered to resign, said BJP sources. Mishra met the Prime Minister on Friday and offered to quit, a source close to him said. Sources said the PM wants to have a new reinvigorated team to prepare for the 2019 battle by weeding out the non-performers. BJP General Secretary Bhupendra Yadav, party’s Vice-President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Prahlad Patel, Suresh Angadi, Satyapal Singh and Prahlad Joshi are being talked about within the party as probable ministers.

With the Nitsh Kumar-led JD(U) also likely to join the Government, its leaders R C P Singh, who is its parliamentary party leader in the Rajya Sabha, and Santosh Kumar are the likely picks from the new NDA constituent.
AIADMK leader Thambidurai had met Shah on Thursday, and he, besides party leaders P Venugopal and V Maitreyan, may be the likely representatives from the Tamil Nadu party if it decides to join the Government. However, the southern party has not confirmed it so far.The current strength of the council of ministers, including the Prime Minister, is 73 and the maximum number of ministers cannot go beyond 81.

According to a constitutional amendment, the limit cannot exceed beyond 15 per cent of the total strength of the Lok Sabha which is 545.While there are some vacancies, a number of senior ministers are also holding dual portfolios.
Arun Jaitley is in charge of two heavyweight ministries- Finance and Defence- while Harsh Vardhan, Smriti Irani and Narendra Singh Tomar are also handling additional charges.

Ahead of the Cabinet rejig, Modi has been presented a detailed report card of every Minister, according to sources.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, whose Department has been shaken by a series of recent accidents might be given some other portfolio. He had put in his papers in the wake of the Utkal Ganga Express derailment, but the Prime Minister had asked him to wait.

It is likely that Minister for Road Transport and Highway Nitin Gadkari can be given charge of the Railways. Besides, the Power Minister Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan might be elevated. After Anil Madhav Dave’s death, the important Ministry of Environment was being looked after as additional charge by the Minister of Science and Technology Dr Harshvardhan, and after Venkaiah Naidu’s installation as Vice-President the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had been given to Smriti Irani who was already handling an important Ministry. It will be the third such exercise since he took over in May 2014.