Why Cabinet reshuffle won't see Modi appointing a full-time defence minister

Utter Pradesh Congress President Raj babbar during the press conference at Congress office in Lucknow

The reshuffle has been expected for some time.

The reshuffle is likely to be completed before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for his China visit on September 3.

The Union cabinet reshuffle will take place on Sunday morning.

"A process has been set in motion for the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan at around 10 am on Sunday", a top government official was quoted as saying by PTI.

Republic TV has reported that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis may get a Cabinet berth and sources said that he has agreed to the proposal. While the view in the political leadership is that a Cabinet reshuffle is certainly required, the big question is about the timing. The first reason behind the move is that there are several vacancies in key ministries. The environment ministry was reassigned to Harsh Vardhan as an additional charge after the death of minister Anil Dave. From Gujarat, where elections are due by this year-end, the BJP's OBC face and Bhavnagar MP Bharti Syal is reportedly being considered for elevation. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has the additional charge of Defence and Narendra Singh Tomar, who is already burdened with rural development, panchayati raj, drinking water and sanitation departments, was given the additional charge of Urban Development Ministry.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has already offered to quit. One of them is Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Kalraj Mishra, who is likely to be sent to Maharashtra.

An excel sheet was prepared of the ministers classified as "positive" and "negative" based on their work, which was submitted to the Prime Minister and BJP national president Amit Shah.

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Agriculture minister Radhamohan Singh is also expected to go, because of the Madhya Pradesh farmer protests.

Ganga rejuvenation was the pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Balyan and his boss, Uma Bharti, seems to have not made any visible progress in it. India's almost Rs 20,000 crore plan to clean the holy Ganga river is badly behind schedule, with large stretches contaminated by toxic waste and sewage, forcing Modi to intervene.

The government may also announce new governors for five states. At least two members of Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United are also likely to join.

With just 18 months away from 2019 general elections, this rejig is very important for the Modi government.

AIADMK leader Thambidurai had met Shah on Thursday, and he, besides party leaders P Venugopal and V Maitreyan, may be the likely representatives from the Tamil Nadu party if it decides to join the government.

The current strength of the council of ministers, including the prime minister, is 73 and the maximum number of ministers can not go beyond 81.

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