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Modi likely to expand cabinet Sunday

Modi likely to expand cabinet Sunday

New Delhi/Panaji: The first expansion of the Narendra Modi government is likely to take place Sunday with Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar among the new faces expected to be inducted in the union council of ministers.

Informed sources said the expansion may also see greater representation from some allies and more balance in representation from states.

Parrikar Thursday virtually confirmed his moving to the union cabinet. The Bharatiya Janata Party legislators in Goa are expected to meet Friday to discuss his successor.

Parrikar is being tipped for the key defence ministry portfolio, one of the two held by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The 58-year-old Parrikar said he was instructed by BJP president Amit Shah to accept any responsibility entrusted by Prime Minister Modi.

He, however, told the media that the portfolio he was to get has not been revealed to him yet.

"Amit Shah told me to accept any assignment given to me by the prime minister. The second part is the prerogative of the prime minister," Parrikar said, ending speculation on his appointment as a cabinet minister.

Parrikar, along with state party president Vinay Tendulkar and organising secretary Satish Dhond, met Shah Wednesday in New Delhi, fuelling speculation about his induction into the union cabinet.

He said the BJP's parliamentary board, the highest decision-making body in the party, would take a final call on issues related to the cabinet expansion Saturday morning.

"On the morning of Nov 8, many issues will be clear to you," Parrikar said, adding that he was forced to address the media Thursday to steer clear of speculation.

Other names doing the rounds for likely induction in the council of ministers include BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Sources said that Himachal Pradesh was likely to get representation in the council of ministers and party general secretary J.P. Nadda or party's youth wing chief Anurag Thakur may be inducted.

The sources said a few more leaders from the Telugu Desam Party and the Shiv Sena could also find a place in the union council of ministers.

TDP leader and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu Thursday almost confirmed that an expansion of the Modi government was on the cards.

"You will know details about the cabinet expansion in two days," Naidu said on the sidelines of India Economic Summit here.

There is also possibility of the Shiv Sena increasing its representation in the Modi government though there is no breakthrough in its deadlock with the BJP over power-sharing in Maharashtra.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said that expansion of the state cabinet will take place only after trust vote next week. The Shiv Sena has to decide on support to the BJP-led government in Maharashtra and about its participation in it.

Modi government has at present 22 cabinet members and 22 ministers of state, some of them with independent charge.

Besides Jaitley, many ministers in the Modi government, including Nitin Gadkari, Prakash Javadekar, Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal, have charge of multiple ministries.

Sources said BJP parliamentarians Giriraj Singh and Jayant Sinha may be among those inducted.

The party may also induct Birender Singh, a leader from the Jat community which has presence in several states including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and also Delhi. Birender Singh joined the BJP before the Haryana assembly polls after snapping his association with the Congress.

Sunday was mentioned as the likely day for expansion as Modi is scheduled to leave on a foreign tour Nov 11. The winter session of parliament is scheduled to begin Nov 24.

Source: IANS


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