New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet BJP chief Amit Shah this evening before the allocation of portfolios in a rejig and expansion of his council ministers that saw 19 new ministers take oath today and one minister, Prakash Javadekar, being promoted to Cabinet rank.
The list of new ministers was reportedly drawn up after multiple meetings between the Prime Minister and Mr Shah over the last 45 days, including a four-hour discussion last week. It carries a strong imprint of Mr Shah and his party's political imperatives with crucial state elections next year.
Today's expansion is a careful balance of caste, social and regional considerations, with a focus on backward caste and Dalit leaders, as the BJP attempts to woo those sections of voters - not seen as part of its traditional support base - in states like UP and Punjab, where elections will be held early next year.
Two new ministers, Jasvantsinh Bhabhor and Faggan Singh Kulaste, belong to Scheduled Tribes and five to Scheduled Castes -- Ajay Tamta from Uttarakhand, Ramdas Athawale from Maharashtra, Arjun Ram Meghwal from Rajasthan, Ramesh Jigajinagi from Karnataka and Krishna Raj from Uttar Pradesh.
Anupriya Patel of the BJP's Uttar Pradesh ally Apna Dal, is a member of the Kurmi caste.
There are three new ministers from UP and Gujarat, and one from Uttarakhand - all states where elections will be held next year.
In an unusual move, each of the leaders who took oath today - 17 are from the BJP and two from allied parties - had trooped down one by one to meet Amit Shah at his 11 Akbar Road residence in Delhi. Later on Monday, Mr Shah visited the office of his party's ideological mentor - the RSS or Rashtryia Swayamsevak Sangh - to seek its endorsement of the new list.
Government sources have said the new ministers were picked in a rigorous selection process that assessed whether they were "doers and performers." They will be tasked with delivering on the PM's vision of development and good governance and to take forward his central priority of 'gaon, garib and kisan (village, the poor and the farmer)'.
The Prime Minister met his new ministers over tea on Tuesday and also tweeted, "Congrats to newly sworn-in colleagues. Let's work together to bring a positive difference & for #TransformingIndia."
PM Modi's expanded council now has 78 ministers, including him.