PM Narendra Modi held deliberations with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda on June 11, fueling speculation about a reshuffle in the Union Cabinet
Speculation is rife about an impending Union Cabinet reshuffle. On June 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held deliberations with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National President JP Nadda.
News reports had earlier suggested that the prime minister was meeting union ministers in different batches to review their performance, and Nadda was also present in these meetings. Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Jitendra Singh, besides BJP General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh, were also reportedly part of the deliberations.
This would be the first reshuffle exercise of the Second Modi Ministry, which took office in May 2019. At least three such reshuffles were carried out in the First Modi Ministry between 2014 and 2019.
There are multiple vacancies in the Cabinet caused by the demise of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan, and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Shiv Sena’s exit from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Many ministers are currently handling multiple portfolios due to these vacancies.
The ruling alliance would be looking to fill the Cabinet with some names from the poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Along with these two states, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa will also head for assembly elections in early 2022.
The top ministries such as home, defence, finance and corporate affairs and external affairs, which are part of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), are not likely to see any change.
Moneycontrol reported earlier that a long list of probables is looking forward to their induction into the Union Cabinet. The frontrunners are former union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia who defected to the BJP in 2020, former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Modi and former Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
Scindia jumping to the saffron party along with some Members of Legislative Assembly close to him had led to the collapse of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh in early 2020.
Sushil Modi was not made part of the Bihar Cabinet after the assembly polls there in 2020. It was widely reported that Sonowal would be compensated with a berth at the Centre as the party chose to make Himanta Biswa Sarma the Assam CM following the recent state polls there.
According to a report by The Times of India, senior leaders of Bihar Chief Minister's Janata Dal (United) have demanded 'proportionate representation' in the Union Cabinet. Senior party leaders RCP Singh and Rajiv Ranjan Singh may be proposed as inductions from Bihar. JD(U) had not taken up any Union Cabinet position in 2019.
Meanwhile, five of LJP’s six Lok Sabha members have decided to replace Chirag Paswan as the leader of the LJP Parliamentary party in the Lower House with Hajipur MP Pashupati Kumar Paras, news reports suggest. The LJP MPs have reportedly met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and handed him a letter in this regard.
The rebel group is said to be unhappy with Chirag Paswan's style of functioning following the demise of his father, former union minister Ram Vilas Paswan. A report by The Times of India, however, suggested that differences cropped up over the likely inclusion of one of the leaders in the Cabinet reshuffle.
Ram Vilas Paswan’s berth in the Cabinet is also likely to be filled in the reshuffle. LJP is not part of the ruling alliance in Bihar but remains a member of the NDA at the Centre.
Eye on Uttar Pradesh polls?
The BJP may be looking to add a couple of names from Uttar Pradesh ahead of the assembly polls there. This also comes amid the buzz of a possible reshuffle in UP as well, where CM Yogi Adityanath has been facing dissent within the party over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, BJP ally Apna Dal's Anupriya Patel, who was a minister in the first Modi government but was not inducted in the second, was reportedly a part of the Delhi meeting between Shah and Adityanath.
The reshuffle may result in the induction of multiple ministers from BJP's allies. Currently, the Republican Party of India (A)'s Ramdas Athawale is the only non-BJP member in the Council of Ministers.