As many as 20 new ministers could take the oaths of office and secrecy when Prime Minister Narendra Modi expands the council of ministers, making a few new cabinet ministers. Sources in the government said that the exercise could take place on 8 July. Media reports said that the exercise could be delayed as Narendra Modi’s meeting with BJP national president JP Nadda and top ministers have been cancelled. The meeting was scheduled for 5 PM today.
Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and others were likely to attend the meeting. At the meeting, the prime minister was expected to discuss the performance of ministers and also proposals on future schemes.
Earlier, on 20 June, the prime minister had held a similar meeting.
The union cabinet can have 81 members. At present, there are 53 ministers. There is a scope for adding 28 new faces. Sources said the swearing-in may happen as early as 7 July. However, there was no official word on it.
The states which will go to the assembly polls early next year, including the all-important Uttar Pradesh, may figure high. West Bengal may see its representation in the Union Council of Ministers go up, the sources said. It is believed that the BJP’s allies like JD(U) and Apna Dal can also get representation.
Presently, Republican Party leader Ramdas Athawale, a junior minister, is the only ally in the government after parties like the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal severed ties with the BJP. Lok Janshakti Party founder Ram Vilas Paswan, a Cabinet minister, had died last year and all eyes are on whether his brother Pashupati Kumar Paras will be part of the expansion. Paras is engaged in a bitter battle with Paswan’s son Chirag Paswan for the control of the party and has been recognised as the LJP leader in Lok Sabha after five of its six MPs lent their support to him.
BJP leaders Sarbananda Sonowal, the former Assam Chief Minister who made way for Himanta Biswa Sarma in the state, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sushil Modi are seen as strong ministerial candidates amid indications that some allies of the saffron party may also get berths. Others who could also join the government include Manoj Tiwari, Narayan Rane, RCP Singh, Dilip Ghosh, Santosh Kushwaha, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, Locket Chatterjee, Zafar Islam and Anupriya Patel.
This would be the first cabinet expansion exercise of the Modi government that stormed to power in 2019 for the second term in a row. Earlier on 3 and 4 July, Modi held meetings with senior BJP leaders Amit Shah and BL Santosh at his official residence, 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, in what is being seen as the final touches being given to the details of the expansion of the union cabinet.
Santosh is the current national general secretary of BJP. He worked as BJP’s general secretary (organisation) for eight years in Karnataka. Shah, who holds the Home portfolio, served as the BJP president for six years between 2014 and 2020.
8 states get new governors
Amid the buzz over an upcoming Union Cabinet expansion, the president appointed eight new governors on 6 July.
|3.||Hari Babu Kambhampati||Mizoram|
|4.||Mangubhai Chaganbhai Patel||Madhya Pradesh|
|5.||Rajendran Vishwanath Arlekar||Himachal Pradesh|
|7.||Satyadev Narayan Arya||Tripura|
|8.||PS Sreedharan Pillai||Goa|