Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to expand his council of ministers on Sunday with top BJP leaders maintaining that at least six new faces, including Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar are expected to be inducted.
Though BJP top brass officially remained tight-lipped on the issue, party sources said Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, its prominent Muslim face; its youth wing president Anurag Thakur besides Parrikar are being considered for a ministerial berth.
Incidentally, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party is a BJP ally, also indicated that an expansion of the cabinet is on the cards.
“You will know details about the Cabinet expansion in two days,” said Naidu, who walked off the stage for a few minutes during an interview at the World Economic Forum’s India summit to attend a phone call but refused to identify the caller.
Some new faces from Bihar and Rajasthan besides a few from BJP allies like Shiv Sena and TDP are expected to find a place in the government, sources indicated.
Meanwhile, Modi’s visit to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the morning to attend a Gurbani recital to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak also triggered speculation that it was in the context of a possible reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers.
There are currently 22 Cabinet members and same number of ministers of state, including 10 with independent charge. Many BJP leaders like Nitin Gadkari, Arun Jaitley, Prakash Javadekar, Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal have charge of multiple ministries. And the exercise is aimed to streamline the portfolios.
Amid indications of Parrikar being elevated as Union minister, BJP’s Goa unit is expected to finalise his successor.
According to party sources, Parrikar is currently in New Delhi along with Goa unit president Vinay Tendulkar and General Secretary Satish Dhond is expected to join them.
Parrikar on Wednesday held a meeting with BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi amid reports that he could get the defence portfolio in the Union Cabinet.
Later in the night, he followed it up with a meeting with Modi and told reporters that they only discussed Goa issues.
If the reshuffle of the ministry takes takes place, this will be the first recasting of his council of ministers by Modi after he assumed office in May after the general elections.
Sunday is being talked about as the day for the exercise as Modi is scheduled to leave on a three-nation nine-day tour on November 11.