After the announcement of BJP national president J.P. Nadda’s new team, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may also expand and reshuffle his Cabinet possibly in next few weeks. Like Nadda, the PM may also spring a surprise with his expanded team.
In fact, the expansion of the Modi Cabinet was planned in the beginning of this year but it was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are two reasons that give currency to the speculation about Cabinet expansion: First, names of several senior leaders like Ram Madhav, Anil Jain, Saroj Pandey and P. Muralidhar Rao are missing from the new list of national office-bearers announced by Nadda. PM Modi may like to take some of these leaders in his team. Second, after the Shiv Sena, the SAD has also exited the NDA, leaving another ministerial post vacant. Similarly, LJP leader Chirag Paswan is seeking a ministerial position at the Centre, in view of the upcoming Bihar elections. So these are the reasons which necessitate a Cabinet expansion of the Modi government.
According to sources, PM Modi has started his work in this regard by taking feedback necessary for this purpose. He is said to be going through all the possible names. Sources said that the BJP is not going to yield to pressure being created by the LJP for more seats in Bihar. As regards Chirag’s desire for ministerial post, it is for the PM to take a call.
At the same time, Jyotiraditya Scindia, who joined the BJP from the Congress paving the way for formation of the saffron party’s government in MP, is also under consideration for being inducted in Modi’s team. His supporters are eying his possible inclusion in the Cabinet. They believe that Scindia’s induction into the Cabinet will benefit BJP candidates on all 28 seats where bypolls are to be held in Madhya Pradesh.
PM Modi has to decide if he expands his team now or after the Bihar polls. He gives this surprise in October or November is something which is being keenly awaited. But the possibility of expansion is stronger after Nadda’s team shakeup.
Sources said that PM Modi cannot postpone this exercise for long given the prevailing political situation and an atmosphere building up in the country. Farmers are on roads in protest against the farm bills, with the Opposition and now an ally seeking to derive political mileage out of this. The development related to the farmers’ protest is affecting the politics in Punjab and UP. Both the states have to go to polls in the next one and a half years.
With this in view, changes need to be made in both the states. In addition to this, vacant posts in the Cabinet have to be filled up. Some of the ministers are holding three to four portfolios due to the delay in expansion.
Similarly, there is speculation about Om Mathur being considered for the Cabinet. He has been dropped from BJP’s vice president post. Another consideration is that Mathur may be sent as governor to some state. There are indications that a list of governors can also be released. Name of Om Mathur, who hails from Rajasthan, is speculated about several key posts whenever there is an expansion or reshuffle in the Cabinet or BJP team on the cards. But at the last moment, his name gets dropped.
Several other senior leaders like Uma Bharti, Prabhat Jha, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Shyam Jaju and Avinash Rai Khanna are also missing from the new national team of the BJP. But PM Modi has to decide who is to be given a post in his team.
Meanwhile, Bhupendra Yadav’s stature has risen in Nadda’s team. Earlier it was said that Yadav will be brought in the Cabinet but it is clear now that he would be looking after organisational work. He has been assigned responsibilities in Bihar which is an important state given the Assembly polls starting next month.
Similarly, Rajasthan’s Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has been given organisational post due to which his claim for a Cabinet berth ceases to exist.
Source said that two new faces from Rajasthan have to be brought in the Cabinet and two may be removed. But the way Vasundhara Raje has been given importance in Nadda’s team it is clear that she would be the face of the party in Rajasthan.