Cabinet rejig likely; Parrikar may be in

Goa CM likely to get defence portfolio

Cabinet rejig likely; Parrikar may be in

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may expand his Cabinet ahead of the winter session of Parliament set to begin on November 24.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s name is among those doing the rounds. Parrikar met Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah on Wednesday amid reports that he may be offered the Defence Ministry. Now, Arun Jaitley is handling Finance, Corporate Affairs as well as the Defence Ministry.

Parrikar did not deny reports that he was in contention for a post at the Centre. “I will speak only after meeting the prime minister,” the Goa chief minister said.

However, after the 8pm meeting with the prime minister, Parrikar said: “Modi did not talk about me joining the Cabinet. We discussed Goa issues.”

Parrikar is not keen on leaving Goa, said BJP sources, but much  depends on what Modi desires. His name was speculated even when Modi and 45 leaders of the National Democratic Alliance took oath towards the end of May.

There are reports that 12 new faces may join the Cabinet.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Col Sonaram Chaudhary–a Rajasthan Jat leader close to Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje who switched over from the Congress to defeat Jaswant Singh from Barmer in the Lok Sabha elections–Nawada MP Giriraj Singh and Hansraj Ahir may also join the government.

Jayant Sinha, son of former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, if inducted, may be made a minister of state in ministries related to finance.

If the Shiv Sena joins the Maharashtra government, then Modi may offer a minister of state berth to take its tally to two.

A very senior BJP leader privy to consultations did not rule out a reshuffle of the Cabinet but did not divulge details saying, “It’s the prime minister’s prerogative.”
The Cabinet expansion may happen on November 9, two days before Modi leaves for Australia and Fiji. He will be out of the country till November 19.

Modi is expected to carry out a pruning exercise to divest some ministers of multiple charges. Senior leaders Nirmala Sitharaman and Prakash Javadekar may also be elevated to the Cabinet. 

In the present Cabinet, Nitin Gadkari holds the most number of portfolios–Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, and Drinking Water and Sanitation.

Similarly, senior leader Venkaiah Naidu is in charge of Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, and Parliamentary Affairs. Communications and Information Technology, and Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad may lose the Telecom Ministry.

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