Modi may expand cabinet next week

Modi may expand cabinet next week

Straws in the wind suggest that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen on undertaking the much-needed expansion of his council of ministers before he leaves for his three-nation tour on November11.

Straws in the wind suggest that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen on undertaking the much-needed expansion of his council of ministers before he leaves for his three-nation tour on November11. The likely dates, as told to this writer by a credible source, are 7th or 8th of November and driven by some sound political and administrative logic.

The idea behind going in for a re-jig and expansion of the council of ministers before Modi leaves for his longest-ever foreign tour yet in terms of number of days to Myanmar, Australia and Fiji (11-18 November) is that it would give ample time for to-be inducted ministers to familiarise themselves with their ministries for the winter session of parliament (24 November-23 December).

Besides, taking a call on this issue by next week will be handy for the Modi government to bring curtains down on the Maharashtra tangle and deciding on the BJP-Shiv Sena relations. The Devendra Fadnavis government is to prove its strength on the floor of the Assembly by November 15.

If the BJP finally decides to agree to 2:1 ratio of BJP-Shiv Sena ministers in the Fadnavis govt, a likely scenario, then the Modi government will also have to take a call on how many central ministries will be given to Shiv Sena. If the BJP-Sena talks pan out in a positive manner, Modi may give one Cabinet and two MoS berths to the Sena in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle.

The other brief window available for PM Modi in expanding his council of ministers is between 19th and 23rd, a day after his foreign tour and a day before the beginning of the winter session respectively. But that would be cutting it a bit too fine in view of the parliament session and would hardly give adequate time to the new ministers to sink in their teeth in their ministries.

In the last week of this month, Modi has to visit Kathmandu for attending the SAARC Summit (28-29 Nov). After the Prime Minister is done with the parliament session, it will be time for him to receive Russian President Vladimir for a crucial India-Russia annual summit in New Delhi, likely in the last week of December. Considering the PM’s chock-a-bloc schedule, next week seems to be the most ideal time for expansion/reshuffle of his council of ministers.

Moreover, the PM is keen to have major infrastructure projects going in full steam in double quick time. His present council of ministers is overburdened for the last over five months and many ministers are handling multiple ministries. Apart from other things, this situation is not conducive for pushing infrastructure projects.

Modi is trying to make several efforts to beef up work on infrastructure all around. As part of this exercise, he scheduled a meeting with 80 secretaries of Government of India at his 7, RCR residence on Saturday evening. Modi’s prime agenda in meeting the secretaries is to take stock of work done in the past five months and sensitise them to have time-bound implementation and monitoring of all development projects geared to speed up the infrastructure growth.

Besides, the Prime Minister has called for a meeting of ministers and top officials of all infrastructure-related ministries on 5 November.

There is yet another reason for Modi to get this pending issue of cabinet reshuffle-cum-expansion done away with soonest possible. His above-mentioned itinerary does not take into account dozens of public rallies he is going to address in the poll-bound states of Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir.

Modi is the BJP’s sole poster boy and his popularity is still continuing to translate into votes as seen in the recent Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections. The BJP would definitely be aiming at carpet bombing Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir with Modi rallies. Therefore, the sooner he is done and over with pending cabinet expansion, the better for him and the BJP.

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