Cabinet shuffle today; will Narendra Modi let Kerala down?

Narendra Modi

Several new faces, including some from dalit community, are likely to be included in the expansion and reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers on Tuesday, an exercise being done with an eye on the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and a few other states next year. Reports said that the new cabinet will see as many as 19 new faces.

Kerala may not get a cabinet berth with sources suggesting that Malayalam actor­turned­Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi is unlikely to be inducted in the Modi cabinet.

In the expansion, the second since prime minister Narendra Modi took over in May, 2014 new faces like Anupriya Patel, an OBC Lok Sabha member of ally Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh, besides BJP MPs S.S. Ahluwalia (West Bengal) and Purushottam Rupala, a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat, may be inducted. Krishna Raj, a dalit woman MP from Uttar Pradesh, Mahendra Nath Pandey, a Brahmin face in the state, Ajay Tamta, a dalit MP from Uttarakhand, which also goes to polls next year, also figure in the list of probables.

Arjun Ram Meghwal, a dalit BJP MP from Rajasthan, Ramdas Athawale, another dalit leader and RPI MP from Maharashtra, can get ministerial berths besides Subhash Ramrao Bhamre, who is also from Maharashtra, and Mansukhbhai Mandaviya, a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat. The names of Rajya Sabha MPs Vijay Goel, M.J. Akbar, Anil Madhav Dave, Bhupender Yadav and P.P. Chaudhary, Lok Sabha member from Pali in Rajasthan, have also been doing the rounds as possible inductions. Many of these leaders met party chief Amit Shah on Monday, who is also likely to announce the party’s organizational team soon.

Some ministers can also be dropped, party sources said, while a few state ministers can be promoted and portfolios of some others may witness changes. Frank Noronha, Principal spokesperson of the government, tweeted today that the cabinet expansion will take place on Tuesday at 11 am.

There is also a vacancy in the council of ministers after sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal became the chief minister of Assam.

The first expansion had occurred in November 2014. There are currently 64 Union ministers, including the prime minister, and there can be a maximum of 82 of them under a constitutional bar. Sources said Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi, a dalit BJP Lok Sabha member from Karnataka and Faggan Singh Kulaste, a Lok Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh, are also among the probables for ministerial berth.

Later in the evening, Shah met senior RSS functionaries, after probable ministers, who are likely to be inducted in the union council of ministers, called on the party chief one by one through out the day.

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