PM Narendra Modi to go for first cabinet expansion today

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New Delhi, Nov 9: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to reshuffle and add at least 20 new faces in the first cabinet expansion on Sunday, Nov 9 to inject fresh talent, give wider representation to states and ease pressure on some ministers.

The event is scheduled to take place at the Durbar hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan at around 1.30 pm.

Before the swearing-in ceremony, PM Narendra Modi is hosting a breakfast for the newcomers into his ministry.

First-time MP from Rajkot constituency Mohan Kundariya is likely to be inducted in the PM Modi-led government.

BJP allies TDP and Shiv Sena have also named Y S Chowdhary and Anil Desai, respectively, for induction in the Council of Ministers. Both the Rajya Sabha members are expected to be made Ministers of State.

This will be the first cabinet reshuffle since Modi took power in May after leading the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a historic win in the Lok Sabha election.

The current strength of the Council of Ministers is 45 -- 23 of Cabinet rank, including the Prime Minister, and 22 Ministers of State. Of the 22 MoS, 10 hold Independent Charge.

59-year-old Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who resigned on Saturday, is widely tipped to become the new defence minister, divesting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of one of his portfolios.

BJP sources say Parrikar may be inducted into the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, where the party has 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha members. An IIT-M alumnus, Parrikar will be the first Cabinet Minister from Goa and shares a good rapport with the Prime Minister.

The Sunday event will happen before the start of parliament's winter session Nov 24, giving time to the new ministers to familiarise themselves with the working of their ministries.

Bandaru Dattatreya from Telangana and Sujana Chowdary from Andhra Pradesh are likely to be inducted into the union cabinet.

Dattatreya, a national vice president of the BJP, is a Lok Sabha member from Secunderabad. Chowdary belongs to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and is a member of Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh.

Modi telephoned the two MPs on Saturday morning and asked them to be in Delhi on Sunday morning, sources in the two parties said.

Dattatreya is the lone BJP MP from Telangana and his inclusion will give representation to the newly created state in the union council of ministers.

Chowdary, a businessman, is a first-time MP and is considered close to TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu.

The widespread feeling is that Modi would like to make his government more broad-based vis-a-vis the geographical spread of his party.

New ministers may be taken from Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar besides Haryana and Maharashtra -- two states where the BJP was elected to power for the first time last month.

Among the names doing the rounds are party J P Nadda (BJP general secretary from Himachal Pradesh), Jayant Sinha (son of former Union minister Yashwant Sinha from Jharkhand), Ram Kripal Yadav (former RJD leader, elected on BJP ticket from Patna), Girirraj Singh (Bhumiar leader from Bihar), Vijay Sampala, a dalit and a first time Lok Sabha member of BJP from Hoshiarpur, Punjab, 57-year-old Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Niranjan Jyoti (both Uttar Pradesh), Sanwar Lal Jat (Rajasthan) and Birender Singh (Jat leader from Haryana).

Naqvi, a prominent Muslim face of the BJP, returns to the Union Council of Ministers 15 years after his stint as MoS Information and Broadcasting in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. A member of Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, he is currently the Vice President of BJP.

Former union minister Suresh Prabhu, who is the Prime Minister's sherpa for G-20 Summit, is widely being speculated as the head of a new body that will replace the Planning Commission. In that capacity, he may get Cabinet rank status.

The other names doing the rounds include Ajay Tamta from Uttarakhand, Col Sonaram Chaudhary and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, both of Rajasthan, Hansraj Ahir from Maharashtra and Ramesh Bais from Chhattisgarh.

There is speculation that a couple of ministers could be dropped while a few could be elevated to the Cabinet rank.

Name of former union minister Suresh Prabhu, Olympic medallist Rajyavardhan Rathore and singer Babul Supriyo Baral are also doing the rounds for inclusion in the council of ministers.

The Modi government now has 22 cabinet members and 22 ministers of state, some holding independent charge.

More than six ministers are currently holding more than one portfolio.

Road Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari also holds the charge of Rural Development Ministry, while Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also has the charge of IT and Communications Ministry.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has I&B ministry as an additional charge while Power Minister Piyush Goyal also looks after Coal and Mines.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu also has Urban Development while Nirmala Sitharaman, MoS in Finance Ministry, also has independent charge of Commerce.

With Modi repeatedly emphasising that his government will work on the mantra of "minimum government, maximum governance", the size of the union council of ministers is not expected to be large.

OneIndia News

(With agency inputs)

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