Union Cabinet expansion or reshuffle on cards?

New Delhi: Though there has been no official word on Cabinet expansion or reshuffle, speculations have once again gathered pace as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met political leaders from Jammu & Kashmir.

As many as 27 probables, including heavyweights Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sushil Modi, Bhupender Yadav, Kailash Vijayvargiya and minority face Syed Zafar Islam, could be part of the massive expansion of the Union Cabinet reportedly imminent.

Also, on the master list are former Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal and former Maharashtra CM Narayan Rane, besides, Maharashtra Beed MP Pritam Munde and Gopinath Munde’s daughter are on the reshuffle candidates list.

From Uttar Pradesh which is headed for ‘make or break’ elections for the BJP next year, BJP UP chief Swatantra Dev Singh, a certainty; Pankaj Chaudhary, MP from Maharajganj, Varun Gandhi, and alliance partner, Anupriya Patel are among the probables.

Rajya Sabha MP Anil Jain, Odisha MPs, Ashwini Vaishnaw and former Baijayant Panda; former Railway Minister from Bengal Dinesh Trivedi are also on the list. Jain is also president of the All India Tennis Association.

There is a sizeable contingent from Rajasthan, including former Union Minister in Modi government P.P. Choudhry, youngest MP from Rajasthan hailing from Churu, Rahul Kaswan and Sikar MP Sumedhanand Saraswati. The lone entrant from Delhi will be New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi.

Amid the significant churn in Bihar, Pasupati Paras who rebelled against Chirag Paswan is likely getting a central berth from LJP, as are JDU nominations RCP Singh and Santosh Kumar.

Karnataka may well be represented by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Gujarat BJP president C R Patil is moving to the government along with Ahmedabad West MP Kirit Solaki. From Haryana, Sirsa MP Sunita Duggal, a former Income Tax officer is also among the probables. Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal who impressed with his Parliament speech is also being considered.

The reshuffle is being necessitated by some vacancies caused due to untimely deaths like Ram Vilas Paswan and Suresh Angadi and exits of Akali Dal and Shiv Sena. Many ministers are saddled with multiple portfolios due the deaths and exits.

Upcoming elections in UP are a factor in the reshuffle and also the need to add some heft to government with the entry of Bhupender Yadav, a strong organisational face.

Since Modi came back to power in 2019, this will be the first such reshuffle cum expansion.

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