Modi likely to rejig Cabinet in first week of July

Modi likely to rejig Cabinet in first week of July
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may finally reshuffle his Cabinet in the first week of July. A rejig of the organisational set-up of the BJP is also on the cards.

Speculation was mounting about the reshuffle after party president Amit Shah met Modi on Wednesday. Sources said Modi has already kept a list ready.

The exact date, however, is still under wraps. According to the party circles, the changes could be made as early as July 4 before the prime minister leaves for Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya between July 7 and 11. The induction of new faces in the first week of July should also give them time to prepare for Parliament's monsoon session, starting July 18, BJP officials said.

The reshuffle is likely to be on a small scale, with election-bound Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab getting more attention. A more elaborate rejig based on performance could happen four months later.

At present, Modi's team consists of 70 ministers as against the allowed strength of 81. Among the names doing the rounds from UP are party MPs Yogi Adityanath, Satyapal Singh, Birender Singh "Masta" and Sadhvi Savitri Bai Phoole.

There is also a possibility that former Uttarakhand chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Assam leaders Rameshwar Teli and Raman Deka, and Apna Dal MP Anupriya Patel, who is part of the NDA alliance, are made new ministers. Other names in the reckoning are Allahabad MP Shyama Charan Gupta, Jabalpur MP Rakesh Singh, Bikaner MP Arjun Ram Meghwal, BJP general secretaries Om Mathur and Vinay Sahasrabuddhe. Some ministers from Bihar may be shifted to the party. 

Discussions about the reshuffle were on between Modi and Shah. Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh were also consulted. 

The swearing-in of Sarbananda Sonowal (who was Minister of State for Sports) as Assam chief minister on May 25, 2016,  had created a vacancy. Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla has been made BJP Punjab unit president.

While forming his team in 2014, Modi had set a ceiling of 75 years of age for ministers holding office. Cabinet ministers like Najma Heptulla and Kalraj Mishra have already crossed that age limit.
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