Major Cabinet reshuffle likely in September

Major Cabinet reshuffle likely in September

Union ministers who fare well to be rewarded

Major Cabinet reshuffle likely in September
A major reshuffle of the Union Cabinet is slated for the first week of September even as the portfolios held by Venkaiah Naidu were reallocated following his resignation as Union minister after he was nominated the NDA’s vice presidential candidate on Monday. Textiles Minister Smriti Irani got the additional charge of information and broadcasting ministry, which was held by Naidu

The other portfolio of urban development, which was with Naidu, was given to Narendra Singh Tomar, who has been handling rural development and panchayat raj.

The proposed reshuffle in the first week of September is expected to be a larger exercise as Prime Minister Narendra Modi intends to carry out a revamp, rewarding those ministers who have performed well and, perhaps, show the door to others.

Since he became the prime minister, Modi has carried out only two Cabinet reshuffles and expansions — in November 2014 and July 2016.

Modi will begin consultation with BJP chief Amit Shah and other party leaders after the current monsoon session of Parliament concludes on August 11.

Senior BJP leaders confirmed that “performance criteria” will be the benchmark. Modi wishes to “re-energise” the Union Council of Ministers with a lot of younger faces and meet the development targets set before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

A number of ministers of state who have handled important portfolios as an independent charge could be promoted to the Cabinet rank.

Most importantly, the exercise would see the appointment of a full-fledged Cabinet minister for defence.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has held the additional charge of defence since Manohar Parrikar became the chief minister of Goa.

The government has come under flak from the Opposition for the absence of a full-fledged defence minister when India has been facing a military standoff with China in Bhutan.  When Union minister Anil Madhav Dave passed away on May 18, the portfolio of environment, forests and climate change held by him was handed to Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan.

With less than two years to go for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a third expansion and reshuffle could also see senior BJP leaders who are in the states being asked to shift to the Centre.

Modi has been keen on getting experienced BJP chief ministers to handle portfolios at the Centre, but they have been reluctant to shift out of their states.

The reshuffle is expected to take into account the BJP’s focus on the Assembly polls that are due in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka later this year and next.

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