India PM plans cabinet revamp, some ministers offer to quit, sources

BJP chief Amit Shah

BJP chief Amit Shah

Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MoMSME) Kalraj Mishra along with four other Union Ministers has submitted his resignation ahead of the Cabinet reshuffle on Sunday.

Reports say that Jaitley would continue to remain as the Finance Minister while a new Defence Minister is likely to be appointed on Sunday.

The second important reason is that several Cabinet Ministers are holding additional portfolios.

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Apart from Rudy, the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Uma Bharti, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation minister, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and minister of state Sanjeev Balyan have stepped down. While Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has offered to resign, PM Modi has asked him to wait.

There was no official announcement of the cabinet revamp but sources Reuters spoke to said if it took place it would have to be done before Modi leaves on a foreign tour on Sunday. This could, once again, boost the position of Irani, after her unceremonious removal from the HRD ministry. Modi is also seeking to improve governance before he seeks re-election in 2019.

"They are our party veterans yet there is a little likelihood of Modiji inducting them into his Cabinet owing to various factors", another BJP leader said.One, he clarified, two former chief ministers - octogenarian Khanduri and former BJP state chief Koshiyari - were out of reckoning due to their advanced age.

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Third, had the Doklam crisis not been resolved amicably as indeed it was on August 28, Modi would have definitely been under vast pressure to appoint a full-fledged defence minister, because in that event a part-time defence minister would have been politically incorrect. This is what he was doing as the chief minister of Gujarat. At least two members of the JD (U) are also likely to join.

JD (U)'s Ram Chandra Prasad Singh and Santosh Kushwaha are likely to join the cabinet. However, while Pawar seems undecided on dumping his alliance with the Congress in favour of the BJP for now, the factional feuds within the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu have forced the BJP to put the plan of inducting a member of the party as a central minister on hold.

The current strength of the council of ministers, including the PM, is 73 and the maximum number of ministers can not go beyond 81. The total number of ministers in the council can not exceed 81. However, while he is expected to fill several vacant seats, the prime minister is likely to keep some slots vacant in case inductions from the AIADMK and NCP have to be made in the near future.

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It is not possible to read Prime Minister Narendra Modi's moves in advance. Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Prakash Javadekar feature in this list.

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