Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will undertake a reshuffle of his council of ministers on Sunday in the third such exercise since he assumed charge more than three years ago.
The swearing in of the new ministers in the reshuffle will take place at around 10:00 am on Sunday, a top government official said today.
The process of cabinet reshuffle was set in motion since Thursday night with some ministers resigning on being asked by the party and some others offering to quit to pave the way for changes, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
The cabinet revamp was the cards for weeks because some ministers are holding multiple portfolios adding to their burden and the fact that Modi wants to improve governance before BJP goes to fresh parliamentary polls in 2019.
With economic growth slowing to 5.7 per cent in June-August quarter, the slowest pace in three years for Asia’s third largest economy, Modi is keen on toning up the performance of his government.
A number of cabinet ministers are now holding more than one key portfolios—Finance Minister Arun Jaitley holding additional charge of Defence, Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan having the additional charge of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Textile Minister Smriti Irani holding additional charge of Information and Broadcasting.
The election of Minister for Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu as vice-president caused a vacancy in another important ministry.
A change is also expected in the Railways Ministry after a series of train accidents recently leaving 20 people dead. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has already met Modi and indicated that he had offered to quit but was "asked to wait".
According to BJP sources, Sanjeev Balyan, minister of state for water resources, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship, Kalraj Mishra, minister of micro, small and medium enterprises, and Mahendra Nath Pandey minister of state for human resource development have all offered to resign.
The Indian media reported that Water Resources Minister (cabinet rank) Uma Bharti has also offered to resign on health grounds.
Modi, in reshaping his cabinet, is likely to factor in key legislative assembly elections in several states including Karnataka, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to be held by next year.
The new team could also have at least two representatives of BJP's new ally Janata Dal United of Bihar state Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Since assuming office as PM on May 26, 2014, Modi has already reshuffled his council of ministers twice, the last one having come in 2016 when he inducted 19 new faces and elevated Prakash Javdekar as the cabinet minister.