New Delhi: With the crucial Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections over, there is talk in Delhi's power corridors of a major reshuffle in the Cabinet and along with that changes in the BJP as well as in a number of Raj Bhavans.There are rumours that the changes will take place between August 18 and 20.
Sources said that as many as 25 senior and junior ministers are likely to be dropped, considering that the Modi government has completed more than half of its term and the country appears to be already gearing up for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
There are several vacancies in the Cabinet. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been handling additional charge of the Defence Ministry after Manohar Parrikar resigned from the Cabinet to become Chief Minister of Goa. Defence Ministry needs full-time attention and therefore a vacant berth lies there. The Science & Technology minister Harsh Vardhan has been looking after the Environment Ministry as well, following the death of Anil Dave, the Ministries of Information & Broadcasting and Urban Development are also being held as additional charges after the resignation of M Venkaiah Naidu who is all set to take oath as Vice-President of India while Kalraj Mishra, Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, has turned 76, crossing Modi's un-written eligibility criteria for a ministerial berth of 75 years.
It is also being speculated that chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh respectively, could also be asked to resign and take up Cabinet positions. Both states are poll-bound and it is rumored that Modi isn't comfortable with the prospect of either of them winning yet another term as Chief Minister.
JD(U)'s return to the NDA has given rise to new calculations within the alliance. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is still in power, in spite of resigning, because BJP extended support to him. Now that a large number of BJP's MLAs and MLCs have joined Kumar's Cabinet, JD(U) is said to have asked for at least two berths in the Union Cabinet as well, in return. Purnia MP Santosh Kumar and Rajya Sabha member Ram Chandra Prasad Singh are said to be in the running for the same.
All eyes are on AIADMK as well since a merger of its two factions has been talked about for a while now. Sources say once the merger happens, AIADMK will officially join the NDA and one or two of its MPs will get a place in the Union Cabinet. The name of Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha, M Thambidurai, is doing the rounds as a possible minister.
The party is also likely to be go for an organisational overhaul as there are multiple vacancies in the party organisation too. In Uttar Pradesh, national vice president Dinesh Sharma has become Deputy Chief Minister and secretaries Shrikant Sharma, Sidharth Nath Singh, Mahendra Singh and OBC Morcha chief Dara Singh Chauhan have also been appointed ministers in the Yogi Adiyanath Cabinet.
Keshav Prasad Maurya had also resigned as chief of the party's UP unit after his appointment as Deputy Chief Minister.
Dinesh Sharma was also in-charge of Gujarat and Shrikant Sharma in-charge of Himachal Pradesh. These states too are poll-bound and will need new in-charges. Such vacancies exist in West Bengal and Assam too, as Sidharth Nath Singh was in-charge of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh and Mahendra Singh was in-charge of Assam.
Of the appointments made in 2014, two national vice presidents Bandaru Dattatreya and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and two general secretaries J.P. Nadda, and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, joined the Union government.
Vacancies have emerged in several Raj Bhavans too. West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi is also acting Governor of Bihar after Ram Nath Kovind resigned from Patna Raj Bhavan. Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao is functioning as acting Governor of Tamil Nadu,Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan also has additional charge of Telangana,Nagaland Governor Padmanabha Acharya has additional charge of Arunachal Pradesh,Gujarat Governor Om Prakash Kohli has additional charge of Madhya Pradesh and Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit has additional charge of Meghalaya.