Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called a meeting of his council of ministers at 5 pm on Tuesday to reportedly discuss rejig of the Union Cabinet.
Reports say the expected reshuffle may take into consideration the performance of ministers during the COVID-19 pandemic and the new list may be drawn up keeping in mind the upcoming state elections and the general election in 2024.
Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Prahlad Joshi and Minster of Railways Piyush Goyal among others are slated to attend the meeting.
A report in Indian Express said even though there is no official confirmation on the Cabinet rejig, it may be effected later this week, much ahead of the monsoon session of the Parliament beginning July 19.
The Union Cabinet has a total of 81 seats, of which only 53 have been filled, meaning 28 berths are still vacant.
Speculations on a reshuffle have been doing the rounds ever since the Prime Minister started assessing the performance of ministries last month, and held a slew of meetings with senior ministers and the BJP leadership. The prime minister also met key ministers on June 20 to review the progress of the government in the past two years.
BJP sources that spoke to IE said the performance of state governments in handling the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be a determining factor in the upcoming state assembly elections, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. The state government has been at the receiving end of criticism for its alleged failure to manage the pandemic, the most visible of them being the incident of bodies floating in the Ganges.
The Centre is also expected to consider the political situation in other poll-bound states like Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur and Goa in its reshuffle list.
Reports say Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose break away from the Congress in Madhya Pradesh helped the BJP come to power, Sarbananda Sonowal, who was replaced by Himanta Biswa Sarma as Assam Chief Minister, and Pashupati Paras who led the coup against LJP chief Chirag Paswan in Bihar, may find place in the Cabinet. The JD(U), the BJP’s coalition partner in Bihar, which recently has shown keenness for ministerial berths may get accommodated in the Cabinet too.