Cabinet reshuffle that will take place on Sunday comes ahead PM Modi's visit to China for BRICS summit.
New Delhi: A new Defence Minister is expected to be appointed on Sunday morning when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to revamp his cabinet in a big shake-up. Arun Jaitley will retain the Finance Ministry, sources said; he currently handles both key departments. The Prime Minister was still tweaking his list of new ministers till late on Friday night, sources said. Rail minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to get a new assignment, possibly defence, while his junior minister Manoj Sinha could be elevated in the ministry. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad too could get a new ministry.
Here are 10 updates in the story:
At least eight ministers, including Uma Bharti, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjeev Balyan, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Kalraj Mishra and Bandaru Dattareya have resigned since late Thursday night, and sources said more resignations are expected to make way for new faces.
The changes in Team Modi are being made with an eye on key assembly elections in several states in the next few months and then the 2019 national election when PM Modi will seek a second term.
Evictions from the cabinet are based only on performance after a review, the sources said, with PM Modi clear he wants ministers who perform and work hard.
Sadananda Gowda, who was demoted from Law to Statistics and Programme Implementation in the last reshuffle, and who has not been among the best performers, is unlikely to lose his place in the cabinet because of elections in his state Karnataka next year. Two more BJP leaders from Karnataka could become ministers as the BJP tries to wrest the state back from the Congress.
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh could be asked to go, sources said, though he denied any knowledge of an imminent exit.
Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti did not deny that she has quit when asked, only saying, "I haven't heard that question, will not hear it and will not answer." She is said to be extremely upset about being removed. Sources said her ministry's performance on the gigantic Clean Ganga project, was found sub-par.
Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Sanjeev Balyan both said they were told to resign by the party and they unquestioningly did so. "It's not my decision, it's the decision of the party, and I will follow (it)," Mr Rudy said. Mr Balyan and he are expected to be given key organisational roles in the BJP, sources said, in preparation for the 2019 parliamentary elections. They represent Bihar and UP where assembly elections are done.
From the BJP's latest ally, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United)'s Ram Chandra Prasad Singh and Santosh Kushwaha are tipped to be ministers.
Sources in Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK have said reports of the party joining the cabinet are incorrect.
New ministers are expected to take oath at the Ashoka Hall of presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhawan at 10 am on Sunday morning, just before PM Modi leaves for China for a summit of BRICS nations.