NEW DELHI: The much-anticipated Union Cabinet reshuffle is expected to be announced today evening (between 5.30 pm and 6pm), two weeks ahead of Parliament session. A meeting of the Union Cabinet has been called at 11 am on Wednesday for this purpose.
This will be the first-ever major tinkering of PM Modi’s team since he won an overwhelming mandate two years ago, which may see relatively younger faces in the team, a few ministers fall by the wayside, and eventual shedding of multiple portfolios.
Phone calls have already been made by PMO to the possible new entrants, asking them to rush to Delhi.
SCINDIA, SONOWAL, SUSHIL MODI ON THE ROLL: Notable among those to get the calls were Jyotiraditya Scindia, who defected from the Congress to topple its government in Madhya Pradesh; former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi; former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal who was replaced by Himanta Biswa Sarma; former Maharastra CM Narayan Rane; and Pashupati Nath Paras of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), who recently had a public spat with Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan, son of the party's founder Ramvilas Paswan.
Calls started going out after Prime Minister Modi had one more round of talks with Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP organising general secretary B L Santhosh on Tuesday morning. The first hint of the impending reshuffle came with the appointment of eight new state governors earlier in the day, including dispatch of Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot as the Governor of Karnataka.
JD-U IN MINISTRY: Among allies which will be accommodated is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD-U; it has taken him two rounds of Delhi to secure from PM Modi at least one, if not two seats in the Union Ministry.
Nitish is understood to have given two names -- of Lallan Singh and R C P Singh. Media reports cited sources as saying the JD(U) has 16 MPs in Bihar, which means four of its MPs can be accommodated in the Union Cabinet.
A likely face in the ministry will be Anupriya Patel of Apana Dal from UP; some others from the state may also be accommodated, keeping in mind the caste equations ahead of the Assembly elections early next year.
Sources said BJP Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, Sakaldeep Rajbhar, is also on his way to Delhi. Rajbhar's possible inclusion in the Union Cabinet could be a counter to Om Prakash Rajbhar, the leader of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party who recently declared his resolve not to join hands with the BJP.
SCOPE FOR 28 NEW FACES: There are currently 53 ministers in the Council of Ministers and PM Modi has scope to accommodate as many as 28 new faces.
MULTIPLE PORTFOLIOS: The urgency of the reshuffle was also felt since several ministers, such as Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad and Piyush Goyal, are holding multiple portfolios.
The day witnessed hectic political activity. Scindia cancelled his trip to Dewas in Madhya Pradesh midway and visited the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga temple in Ujjain before leaving for the Capital.
EXIT INTERVIEW: BJP chief JP Nadda will be meeting ministers who are likely to be removed.