Amid murmurs about an imminent expansion of the Union Cabinet, reports indicate that a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top party leaders has been cancelled. Over the last few days, the PM has held marathon meetings with Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh. Sources indicate that the expansion may be announced within the week.
Reportedly, the meeting which had been scheduled to take place at around 5 pm would have included a discussion on the performance of ministers and proposals for future schemes. While there has been no official confirmation thus far, a flurry of meetings over the last few days has fueled speculation about the expansion.
The current strength of the Council of Ministers is 53, besides Modi, and its maximum number can be 81. For the last few weeks, Modi has been meeting Union ministers in groups with BJP president J P Nadda also being present in the exercise to review their works and gather feedback. The BJP brass has also held organisational meetings in different states.
According to reports Shah and Santhosh had remained in talks with Modi at his residence for several hours on Sunday. If the prime minister goes ahead with the exercise, this will the first expansion of the Council of Ministers since the 2019 elections that gave him a second term in office.
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 probables amid indications that some allies of the saffron party may also get berths.
The states which will go to the assembly polls early next year, including the all-important Uttar Pradesh, may figure high. West Bengal may also 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. All eyes are also on all eyes are on whether Lok Janshakti Party's Pashupati Kumar Paras will be a part of the expansion.
(With inputs from agencies)