New Delhi: After months of speculation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to bring about changes in his Council of Ministers on Tuesday, top sources have indicated. The President's House has been informed, sources say, which means there will be an oath ceremony to induct new ministers.
- Cabinet reshuffle likely on Tuesday, ahead of PM Modi's Africa tour
- New ministers expected in council; ally Shiv Sena likely to get a berth
- PM Modi reviewed performances of each ministry in a meeting on Friday
At present, there are 66 ministers in the Council including the Prime Minister; as per the Constitution, there can be 82. Sources say PM Modi may induct new faces in his council.
Among the most keenly watched changes would be the Prime Minister's pick from politically crucial Uttar Pradesh where elections will be held early next year. Sources said at least two new faces from the state may join the Cabinet.
There are a few vacancies in the council which the PM is expected to fill. Sarbananda Sonowal became the Chief Minister of Assam and a new sports minister is on the cards. A berth is also vacant for ally Shiv Sena.
The PM has held long discussions with BJP president Amit Shah over the last 45 days to finalise the changes which will happen a day before he leaves on a four-nation Africa tour on July 7.
Last week, PM Modi held a meeting with Mr Shah which lasted for over four hours. The meet was considered significant as the two are also said to have discussed changes in the BJP's organizational structure.
Amit Shah, after retaining a second term as BJP president late last year, did not change his team of vice president, general secretaries and secretaries as elections were due in five states. The PM has now decided that the road is clear for Mr Shah to pick his team.
The changes in the council and the BJP are crucial for the party. The NDA government is approaching the halfway mark of its five-year term. The new council and the BJP office bearers, who will have a three year term, will lead the party to the next lok Sabha Polls in 2019.
Sources say that a lot of assessment has gone into deciding the contours of the new council. PM Modi last week held a five-hour long meeting with his council and reviewed how each department has spent the money allocated in the last three NDA budgets. The PM in the meet asked for speedy implementation of policies and indicated that some ministries needed to do better.
Top sources say though they can't preempt the PM's prerogative, but there may be no changes in the top four portfolios - Home, Finance, Defence and External Affairs.
Sources also indicated that council members like Power Minister Piyush Goel may be in for a promotion. Another key element of the rejig would be PM's decision on the below 75 year age criteria for a membership of the council. Recently in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP disallowed two senior ministers from continuing as they had crossed 75 years age. In 2014, leaders like LK Advani, MM Joshi, Yashwant Sinha, Shanta Kumar and BC khanduri were kept out of the Cabinet as they were above the age of 75.
PM's decision is pending on the fate of Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Kalraj Mishra, both of whom have crossed the 75 years of age.