National

Stage set for PM Modi's first Cabinet rejig, 20 new ministers likely to be sworn-in on Sunday

New Delhi, Nov 9: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the first revamp exercise after taking charge, is all set to reshuffle and expand his cabinet on Sunday to inject fresh talent, give wider representation to states and ease pressure on some ministers.

The swearing-in ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Durbar hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan at 1.30 pm today. Before the event, PM Modi will be hosting a breakfast for the newcomers.

As many as 20 new faces are expected to be inducted into the Union Council of Ministers today which is likely to bring in BJP leaders Manohar Parrikar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Bandaru Datttatreya while elevating a few, reports said on Saturday.

While a TDP representative is sure to be inducted, last-minute problems appeared to have cropped up over a Shiv Sena member joining the ministry in view of unresolved issues in Maharashtra.

Five months after taking over, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is undertaking an expansion and reshuffle of his Cabinet in which Parrikar appears all set to get Defence portfolio which is now held as an additional charge by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The current strength of the Council of Ministers is 45 - 23 of Cabinet rank, including the Prime Minister, and 22 Ministers of State. Of the 22 MoS, 10 hold Independent Charge.

Among the likely new inductions are Babul Supriyo, BJP MP from West Bengal, Vijay Sampla, a dalit and a first time Lok Sabha member of the party from Hoshiarpur in Punjab and possibly former RJD leader Ram Kripal Yadav, elected on BJP ticket from Patna.

An IIT-M alumnus, Parrikar will be the first Cabinet Minister from Goa.

Naqvi (57), a prominent Muslim face of the BJP, is likely to return to the Union Council of Ministers 15 years after his stint as MoS Information and Broadcasting in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. A member of Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, he is currently the Vice President of BJP.

Rudy, a former Civil Aviation Minister, is also expected to make a comeback into the government after 10 years. Similarly Dattatreya, a four-time MP from Secunderabad and a minister in the Vajpayee government, is also tipped to join the ministry, representing Telangana state.

Neighbouring Andhra Pradesh will get further representation through TDP nominee Y S Chowdary, industrialist-turned-politician, who is likely to be inducted as a Minister of State.

On the Sena front, report indicated that Rajya Sabha member Anil Desai could be inducted. However, a late night meeting between Geete and PM Modi did not materialise.

"I could not meet him," he said, adding that no final decision has been taken on fresh induction from the party into the Union government. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has already demanded that his party should be inducted into the Devendra Fadanvis government before it faces the trust vote.

The other names doing the rounds include JP Nadda, BJP general secretary, Ajay Tamta from Uttarakhand, Jayant Sinha, son of former Union minister Yashwant Sinha from Jharkhand, Jat leader from Haryana Birender Singh, Bhumiar leader from Bihar Giriraj Singh, Col Sonaram Chaudhary and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, both of Rajasthan, Hansraj Ahir from Maharashtra and Ramesh Bais from Chhattisgarh.

(With Agency inputs)

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