Cabinet reshuffle : AIADMK, JD(U) still uncertain about positions

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In light of the reshuffle being made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his cabinet on Sunday, the clouds of uncertainty are hovering over AIADMK and JD(U).

Both the EPS and OPS factions recently merged to make the ruling AIADMK as one party in Tamil Nadu. But as per the recent events in the state uniting the factions and keeping the unity steady are two different things. Soon after the both, the factions were merged 19 MLAs supporting the nephew of Sasikala, TT Dhinakaran issued a no confidence against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E. Palaniswamy demanding for a floor test. Not only the 19 rebel legislators but, 27 more are to soon join the Dhinakaran faction, completely shaking the roots of AIADMK.

With MLAs rebelling and calling for a floor test the inner struggle among the members of AIADMK can be a major obstacle for the party to get any seat at the centre in Modi’s cabinet.

Meanwhile on the other hand, JD(U) who have recently formed the government in Bihar in alliance with BJP had high hopes that at least 2 to 3 of its leaders may get important posts in Modi’s cabinet, but as per the latest updates, the party till now has got no formal information regarding the reshuffle. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in his statement to the press on Saturday said that “we have no information, no talks about it. We have gotten information only from the media.” Kumar expressed his displeasure on the fact that the reshuffle in on Sunday and till now the party has not got any formal invitation.

While BJP sources dismissing the confusion about the involvement of AIADMK and JD(U) in the Modi cabinet, said that the situation is under control and things will be fine. The sources informed that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi is adamant of keeping qualification and practical politics as the base of the reshuffle and new appointments, it is possible that 6 more ministers holding important profiles may have to resign.

A top government official on Friday informed that the arrangements have already been made for the swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet ministers at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Sunday. The Union ministers who have submitted their resignation by Saturday ahead of the reshuffle are Kalraj Mishra, Bandaru Dattatreya, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjeev Kumar Balayan, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahendra Nath Pandey.

Uma Bharati also offered to resign but probably the good luck is in her favor. Though there are speculations that many others may be resigning hoping to get posts in Modi cabinet. On this issue, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti said that only BJP party President Amit Shah or anyone aware of the matter may only be the right person to give information about it.

Uma Bharti tweeted, “The media asked for my response to the ongoing news over the reshuffle in Modi cabinet. I have said that I have not heard the question, neither will I listen nor will I answer.”

It is believed that party President Amit Shah and Narendra Modi in the meeting held on Friday evening have already taken the decision on the changes to be made in the Council of Ministers.

According to sources, at present, Arun Jaitley, who has two big ministries, Finance and Defense is now likely to have a single ministry and most probably it will be the finance ministry. As Jaitley in his statement had cleared that he may not be the defense minister for long now. Nitin Gadkari, considered to be one of the more capable ministers, is currently the Minister of Road Transport and Highways, there are possibilities that Gadkari may be levied with more responsibilities and can be promoted.

According to sources, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who took the moral responsibility of the recent train accidents and indicated his willingness to resign, could be sent to another ministry. Several other ministers, including Steel Minister Birendra Singh, can be shifted to other ministries.

As possible ministers to be included in the Council of ministers among the party, the names of BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, party vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Prahlad Patel, Suresh Angadi, Satyapal Singh, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Anurag Thakur, Shobha Karandlaje, Mahesh Giri and Prahlad Joshi are in the discussion. According to a party leader, the power minister Piyush Goyal, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan and telecom minister Manoj Sinha are seen as good and result-oriented leaders in the government and some of these may also be promoted.

It is believed that RCP Singh and Santosh Kumar can be elected as the prospects from the JD(U) led by Nitish Kumar to be included in the Modi’s cabinet. RCP Singh is the leader of the party’s parliamentary party in the Rajya Sabha. However, the party till now has got no formal invitation regarding the reshuffle.

The leader of AIADMK Thambidurai had met Amit Shah on Friday. If the party of Tamil Nadu decides to join the government then Thambidurai and party leader P. Venugopal and V. Maitreyan can represent their state. However, the party has not yet confirmed their alliance with BJP, nor the latter has confirmed any information of including the AIADMK ministers. Apart from this, discussions related to getting more representation from existing partners like TDP and Shiv Sena are also being considered.

Currently, there are 73 ministers, including the Prime Minister in the Council of Ministers. The maximum number of ministers can not be above 81. According to the amendment of the constitution, this limit can not go above 15 percent of the members of the Lok Sabha ie 545. Due to some vacancies, many senior ministers are also handling two departments. Apart from Arun Jaitley, Harsh Vardhan, Smriti Irani and Narendra Singh Tomar have the additional charge. After assuming office in May 2014, Modi has given an extension to the Council of Ministers two times so far. The first expansion was given on November 9, 2014 and the second extension was given on July 5, 2016.

Though many parties are keeping high hopes of getting a position in the Modi cabinet, few of them are also saying that they have till now not received any formal information regarding the reshuffle in the Modi Cabinet. Just a day ahead of the major reshuffle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, NDA constituent party Shiv Sena has said that there have been no talks with BJP about the inclusion of its party members in the Cabinet reshuffle. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday said that “I have received information about the Cabinet reshuffle from the media itself. I have not made any inquiries (from the BJP central leadership) about this. I have not received any news from anyone nor are we hungry for power.”