Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to expand the cabinet this week. A strong buzz about the Cabinet expansion is going on for quite a while now.
Currently, there are 53 members in Modi's council of ministers against the permitted strength of 81. Amidst the government's criticism on its handling of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabinet expansion will be an opportunity to improve its administrative and political footprint, bring in new faces and reward performers.
Sources said deliberations took place at the highest level in the government for Cabinet expansion. The Prime Minister held multiple meetings with BJP President JP Nadda, Home Minister Amit Shah and other senior ministers in his Cabinet.
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Key allies like JD(U) and Lok Janshakti Party's (LJP) Pashupati Kumar Paras are likely to be accommodated in the expanded Cabinet. While JD(U) does not have any minister at the Centre, LJP is also without a minister after the death of its founder Ram Vilas Paswan.
LJP has had a split since Paswan's death, with Paras displacing his nephew and Paswan's son, Chirag Paswan, as the leader of the parliamentary party. He also got unanimously elected as the national president of the breakaway faction.
The Cabinet expansion will also see a rejig of portfolio of some of the ministers, the sources said. Some of the ministers have been handling multiple ministries, and PM Modi may go for portfolio rationalisation. While Railways and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has also been handling Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution since Paswan's death, Civil Aviation and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri is also a Minister of State in the Commerce Ministry.
The Prime Minister is also likely to induct a few BJP MPs from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the sources said.
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