Before he leaves for Xiamen in PRC for attending the BRICS summit and a return trip to Myanmar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may effect his third Cabinet reshuffle in as many years of his five-year regime. The reshuffle is expected to include members of the AIADMK and JDU besides others. The objective may be to send out a strong signal to PRC’s strong man Xi Jinping that he (Modi) leads a strong national coalition at home and can’t be dealt the way Beijing and its United Front Work Department (UFWD) dealt with the UPA 1 and 2. The UFWD is known for penetrating political establishment of democratic countries and influence the same for China’s larger geoeconomic and geopolitical interests. Its nefarious activities were last exposed in Australia.
Reports on August 31 indicated that skill development minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, minister of state for human resource development Mahendra Nath Pandey and minister of state for water resources Sanjiv Baliyan have submitted their resignations to facilitate the reshuffle. They also indicated that at least three other ministers were likely to quit, including two ministers of Cabinet rank — small and medium enterprises minister Kalraj Mishra and water resources minister Uma Bharti.
Bharti had met BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday and Mishra called on him on Thursday. Rudy was among three ministers — the other two were steel minister Choudhury Birendra Singh and minister of state for human resource development Upendra Kushwaha — who met the BJP president last week.
President Ram Nath Kovind is scheduled to visit Tirupati on Friday and will return to Delhi on Saturday afternoon, making September 2 the most likely date for the reshuffle.
Apart from the growing presence of the NDA in the country, expansion of the council of ministers is also due because of the vacancies that have been created due to the sudden demise of environment minister Anil Madhav Dave and the return of former defense minister Manohar Parrikar to Goa state politics. The election of M. Venkaiah Naidu as vice-president also deprived the cabinet of a key minister.
It is pointed out that the cabinet expansion has been delayed only because the government wants AIADMK to join NDA so that some of the senior leaders of Tamil Nadu can also be inducted. The induction of AIADMK is important because it would be the only major party from South India to become part of the NDA. Apart from Andhra Pradesh, NDA doesn’t have a big party from southern states.
The changes in the Union government are likely to work in tandem with a reorganization of the BJP. It is likely that some of the ministers may be redeployed to work for the party.