Senior BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia on Tuesday cut short his Madhya Pradesh visit to return to Delhi amid talks of Cabinet expansion. Scindia is credited for paving way for Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s return as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister last year.
Also, Sarbananda Sonowal, the former Assam CM who made way for Himanta Biswa Sarma in the state, has been summoned to Delhi.
Reports say that Scindia and Sonowal are among others who would take the oath when Prime Minister Narendra Modi expands the Council of Ministers. According to media reports doing the rounds, the exercise could take place this week. However, there was no official word on it.
Besides Scindia and Sonowal, former Bihar Deputy CM Sushil Modi is also seen as a strong ministerial probable. The states which will go to the assembly polls early next year, including the all-important Uttar Pradesh, may figure high. West Bengal may also see its representation in the Union Council of Ministers go up. It is believed that the BJP’s allies like JD(U) and Apna Dal can also get representation. Others who could also join the government include Manoj Tiwari, Narayan Rane, RCP Singh, Dilip Ghosh, Santosh Kushwaha, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, Locket Chatterjee, Zafar Islam and Anupriya Patel.
The Union Cabinet can have 81 members. At present, there are 53 ministers. There is a scope for adding 28 new faces. Sources said the swearing-in may happen as early as Wednesday. However, there was no official word on it.
This would be the first Cabinet expansion exercise of the Modi government that stormed to power in 2019 for the second term in a row. Earlier on Saturday and Sunday, PM Modi held meetings with senior BJP leaders Amit Shah and BL Santosh at his official residence, 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, in what is being seen as the final touches being given to the details of the expansion of the Union Cabinet. Santosh is the current national general secretary of BJP. He also worked as BJP’s general secretary (organisation) for eight years in Karnataka. Shah, who holds the Home portfolio, served as the BJP president for six years between 2014 and 2020.