Jaitley, Sushma, Gadkari meet at Rajnath's residence ahead of Cabinet rejig

Union Cabinet reshuffle likely this weekend

This is the third reshuffle since the BJP-led NDA formed government in 2014, and each time MPs above the age of 75 have been removed from Cabinet positions, as per the BJP's unofficial rule.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will effect the third reshuffle of his Council of Ministers on Sunday morning, for which the process has already been set in motion with the resignations of seven ministers.

There is a buzz that Modi might relieve health minister JP Nadda from his cabinet role and ask him to focus on the upcoming Himachal Pradesh elections-where he could be projected as the party's chief ministerial candidate to take on Congress' Virbhadra Singh.

Five union government ministers have resigned and two others have offered to resign. However, it is unlikely that it will get resolved before 10 am on Sunday when the cabinet reshuffle has been slated for.

Shah had met Modi on Thursday and the two leaders are understood to have finalised the changes in the council of ministers.

There is also some speculation that Amit Shah may get the defence portfolio, which has been handled by Arun Jaitley ever since Manohar Parrikar was chosen Goa chief minister earlier this year. With this in mind, Shobha Karandlaje, a sitting MP from Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency in Karnataka and a staunch loyalist of state BJP President BS Yeddyurappa, and Belgaum MP Suresh Angadi who is considered a heavyweight in the dominant Lingayat community of Karnataka, could be inducted into the Cabinet. This is what he was doing as the chief minister of Gujarat.




Apart from them, Union Minister Giriraj Singh is also expected to quit after a nudge from the party to pave way for the Cabinet reshuffle.

In the rejig, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may induct new faces lessening the burden on these ministers.

Ministers who are handling dual portfolios will be given only one portfolio.

The former Union minister said there was a Cabinet form of government in the country, but wondered if it was "functioning like one".

Performing ministers like Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Nirmala Sitharaman, Manoj Sinha and Jitendra Singh - all Ministers of State with independent charge - are likely to be elevated to Cabinet rank. Keshari Nath Tripathi is West Bengal Governor but is also acting as Bihar's governor after Ram Nath Kovind became the President of India last month. The government also is trying to make space for new allies the Janata Dal United (JD-U) and the AIADMK. Media reports also suggested that Modi personally took feedback on his ministers from the concerned bureaucrats.

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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