Arun Jaitley signals end of his tenure as Defence Minister, who would succeed him?
New Delhi, August 31: Did Arun Jaitley just spill the beans regarding the Narendra Modi government's plan to bring a new face to head the defence ministry? Currently, Jaitley is India's Defence Minister. He also holds the portfolio of Finance Ministry.
On Thursday, when reporters asked Jaitley about how long he was going to stay as the defence minister, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader's tongue-in-cheek reply, "at least I hope not very long", clearly indicated that Prime Minister Modi is planning to bring a new man to helm the affairs of the ministry.
Jaitley was given the additional charge of defence ministry after former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had to leave Delhi to become the chief minister of the coastal state of Goa, early this year.
Moreover, Jaitley's comment on his tenure in the defence ministry has come at a time when the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning for a cabinet reshuffle soon. The long-pending exercise of reshuffle of Union cabinet is likely to take place in a couple of days from now.
Then, who will be the country's next defence minister? Modi, known for surprising all with his unusual political moves, might give the coveted post to a new man. Sources say it might be newly-elected Rajya Sabha member of Parliament (MP) Amit Shah, who also happens to be the BJP president and close-confidante of Modi.
While many say that Jaitley is holding the defence portfolio on a temporary basis, opposition parties criticised the ruling BJP for neglecting the "very important" ministry of defence, especially when India is fighting a proxy war with Pakistan and just managed to end its standoff in Doklam with China.
According to reports, cabinet reshuffle is likely to take place before Modi's visit to China to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit on September 3.
This would be the third cabinet reshuffle of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and possibly the last before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Along with sending back a few current BJP ministers to work for the party ahead of the 2019 General elections, Modi might give cabinet positions to the Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).