Maximum Politics, Maximum Governance Cabinet rejig ahead of 2019 General Elections

Union Cabinet reshuffle likely this weekend

Narendra Modi's visit to set tone for BJP's Gujarat election campaign

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah were expected to hold talks later in the night on Friday, ahead of the Ministry reshuffle.

The Union cabinet reshuffle will take place on Sunday morning.

"A process has been set in motion for the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan around 10 am on Sunday", a government official told PTI. "BJP sources said, "Unless something dramatic happens in the next 24 hours, it is unlikely that AIADMK will be inducted into the cabinet on Sunday", indicating that it can be done anytime afterwards whenever the Prime Minister wants".

Talking about the overall picture of the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, it will be a big exercise and probably the last during Modi's current tenure.

The current strength of the council of ministers, including the PM, is 73 and the maximum number of ministers can not go beyond 81.

The key portfolios to watch out for this time would be Defence, Railways, Finance, Environment, Information and Broadcasting and Urban development.

The country has no full-time defence minister since Manohar Parrikar made a decision to leave for his home state Goa after the BJP formed government in the state in March. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is now holding dual ministries - finance and defence - will let go of defence.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu is also expected to be let go of in the reshuffle because of the spate of recent train accidents. Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal or his son Anurag Thakur could be inducted into the council of ministers to represent Himachal. "Because, the Prime Minister believes in complete concentration of power", party spokesperson Anand Sharma said here.

Performing ministers like Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Nirmala Sitharaman, Manoj Sinha and Jitendra Singh - all Ministers of State with independent charge - are likely to be elevated to Cabinet rank. One of them is Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Kalraj Mishra, who is likely to be sent to Maharashtra.

Bharti further said that only BJP national president Amit Shah or someone on his behalf could speak on the issue. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh could be asked to go.

The government may also announce new governors for five states.

The Cabinet reshuffle will be closely watched to gauge the message PM Modi wishes to send ahead of the 2019 General Elections. This was followed late on Thursday evening by a slew of Union ministers who offered their resignations.

The current strength of the council of ministers, including the prime minister, is 73 and the maximum number of ministers can not go beyond 81.

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