Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to announce a Cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday evening. Reports indicate that his first rejig in the Council of Ministers since he assumed charge for a second term in 2019 will take place at around 6:00 pm.
According to reports, the new Cabinet will be the the youngest in India's history, with greater representation for marginalised categories and those who have administrative experience and good educational qualifications. It is being speculated that around two dozen OBCs will be ministers in the central government. The changes are likely to factor in polls in five states next year and the 2024 national election.
On Wednesday morning, scheduled meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) and Union Cabinet were cancelled. The CCEA meeting was scheduled to be held at 11 am, while the Union Cabinet meeting was scheduled at 11:05 am.
It must be noted that despite many speculative reports and information quoting sources, there has been no official announcement made about the seemingly imminent reshuffle. Political leaders rumoured to be a part of the expansion have also remained tightlipped about any new roles that they may take up.
Administrative changes ahead of reshuffle
In related news, the Modi government on Tuesday created a new 'Ministry of Co-operation' that will provide a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country. On Wednesday, the Department of Public Enterprises, the nodal entity for policy formulation for all central PSUs was also brought under Ministry of Finance. The updates comes less than a day before the impending Cabinet reshuffle.
Who is likely to get a Cabinet post?
While the Council of Ministers can include a maximum of 81 people, recent events have whittled the numbers down to a mere 53, aside from the Prime Minister. Several positions in the Cabinet are presently vacant due to the exit of Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal and the demise of Jan Lokshakti Party chief Ramvilas Paswan.
With several elections in the offing, it is believed that the polls will play in the selection. Speculation indicates that former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and senior Madhya Pradesh leader Jyotiraditya Scindia. Both of them had on Tuesday begun travelling towards Delhi.
It is also understood that important NDA ally Janta Dal-United is also expected to be provided a berth in the Cabinet. With UP elections in the offing, Apna Dal, too, is likely to get accommodated. Apna Dal leader Anupriya recently met Shah at his residence. Other names that have cropped up include Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Modi and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Narayan Rane.
"Let it get confirmed. Not received a call," Rane insisted after arriving in Delhi on Tuesday evening. He insisted that he had come to the national capital as an MP ahead of the Parliament session.
According to articles quoting sources, leaders from several key states like Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are also expected to be accommodated in the expansion as the BJP aims to expand in these states in the future. In Bihar, all eyes are also on all eyes are on whether Lok Janshakti Party's Pashupati Kumar Paras will be a part of the expansion. According to reports, Janata Dal leader CP Singh had also reached Delhi on Tuesday.
In recent days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held meetings with top members of the government and the BJP. He had also held meetings with some of the individuals considered to be contenders for a Cabinet berth. Notably, Uttarakhand former CM Trivendra Singh Rawat met the PM.
It is also learnt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may also rejig the portfolios of several of his ministers. At present, several ministers have been burdened with multiple portfolios. This may change and some of these may be allocated to the newly inducted ministers, sources added.
(With inputs from agencies)