Prime Minister Narendra Modi has completed consultations with the Bharatiya Janata Party's top leaders as also with the allies to carry out a major reshuffle of the Cabinet early next month, the first since he formed the second government in May 2019. He has also convened a full-fledged meeting of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday. The last such meeting was held in April at the height of the second wave of the pandemic.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) says it is not a routine meeting, though the agenda listed include Covid-19 management and update on the infrastructure projects related to roads, telecom and civil aviation.
Expansion of the Union Cabinet in the first week of July is on the cards to reduce the load of some ministers burdened with the work of more than one ministry. Those in the running include BJP leader and former Bihar deputy CM Sushil Modi, Jyotiraditya Scindia whose defection led to the collapse of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh and return of Sarbananda Sonowal, who was moved to Assam as the chief minister in 2016 and who paved way for Himanta Biswa Sarma, credited for bringing almost the entire northeast in the BJP fold.
Former minister of state Jitin Prasada, who defected from the Congress to give the BJP a prominent Brahmin face in Uttar Pradesh, is also waiting for induction in either the Union Cabinet or the state cabinet of Yogi Adityanath.
The Janata Dal is also expecting a fair share in the Cabinet after the Akali Dal left the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in protest of the controversial farm bills. Some small parties from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are also expected to join the Modi’s ministry in view of the impending Assembly polls in the two states early next year.
Modi may share in the council of ministers meeting the outcome of the reviews he has undertaken in the past month on the performance of the cabinet ministers and ministers of state, flagging gaps in their respective departments. Those present in these review meetings from the ruling BJP side were its president JP Nadda and organisational general secretary BL Santhosh.
The reshuffle may be followed by a Parliament session early August and the national-level changes in BJP.