NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to expand the Union Cabinet by inducting some more ministers in the days to come, sources said on Monday.
The Union Cabinet reshuffle, which would be the first of PM Modi-led NDA government's second term in office, is likely to see the induction of ministers from the five poll-bound states and also keeping in mind the 2024 general election, the sources said.
The Union Cabinet can have a maximum of 81 members. At the moment, there are 53 ministers. Therefore, there is ample scope for PM Modi for inducting 28 new faces into the Union Cabinet.
Sources also hinted said that nine Union Ministers, who have additional portfolios, may be relieved of some ministries.
Among those who are likely to be inducted in the new cabinet expansion, according to the sources, are Jyotiraditya Scindia, who left the Congress last year ahead of regime change in Madhya Pradesh, and Sarbananda Sonowal, who was replaced by Himanta Biswa Sarma as Assam Chief Minister after the BJP won a second term in the northeastern state in May.
The other top contenders in the fray for a ministerial berth include former deputy chief minister of Bihar Sushil Modi, Maharashtra leader Narayan Rane, Bhupendra Yadav and LJP chief Pashupati Kumar Paras.
The expansion is likely to see a major representation from Uttar Pradesh, where assembly elections are scheduled next year. Apart from Apna Dal's Anupriya Patel, the names of Varun Gandhi, Ramshankar Katheria, Anil Jain, Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Zafar Islam may also be considered for the ministerial posts in the Modi cabinet.
Other new names doing the rounds are Ajay Bhatt and Anil Baluni from Uttarakhand and Pratap Simha from Karnataka. Brijendra Singh from Haryana, Poonam Mahajan or Pritam Munde from Maharashtra, and Parvesh Varma or Meenakshi Lekhi from Delhi are other leaders that may be included in the Union Cabinet expansion as a minister with independent charge or as Union Ministers of State, sources said.
Sources said that the names have been shortlisted after a review of the ministers by the Prime Minister in consultation with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief JP Nadda, BL Santosh and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held 'secret' meetings with these leaders on Saturday and Sunday, triggering intense speculations about next Union Cabinet expansion.
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, has served as the BJP president for six years between 2014 and 2020.