19 new faces to be inducted in Union Council of Ministers

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New Delhi: A total of 19 new ministers, some from dalit community, are set to be inducted in the Union Council of Ministers in the second expansion to be carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an exercise being done ahead of Assembly polls in UP and a few other states next year.

According to sources, the expansion-cum- reshuffle being carried out by Modi is also expected to see elevation of at least one minister to Cabinet rank. Some of the 19 new ministers are expected to get Independent charge, the sources said.

Ahead of the expansion, Modi was quoted as saying that tomorrow’s expansion of his ministry will reflect “budget focus and priorities”.

BJP sources said some ministers may also be dropped.

In the expansion, the second since Modi took over in May, 2014 new faces like Anupriya Patel, an OBC Lok Sabha member of ally Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh, besides BJP MPs S S Ahluwalia (West Bengal) and Purshottam Rupala, a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat, may be inducted.

Krishna Raj, a dalit woman MP from Uttar Pradesh, Mahendra Nath Pandey, a Brahmin face in the state, Ajay Tamta, a dalit MP from Uttarakhand, which also goes to polls next year, also figure in the list of probables.

Arjun Ram Meghwal, a dalit BJP MP from Rajasthan, Ramdas Athawale, another dalit leader and RPI MP from Maharashtra, can get ministerial berths besides Subhash Ramrao Bhamre, who is also from Maharashtra, and Mansukhbhai Mandaviya, a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat.

The names of Rajya Sabha MPs Vijay Goel, M J Akbar, Anil Madhav Dave and P P Chaudhary, Lok Sabha member from Rajasthan, have also been doing the rounds as possible inductions.

Faggan Singh Kulhaste, who was embroiled in the cash- for-votes scam during the UPA-1 rule, C R Chaudhary(Gujarat), Jasvantsinh Bhabhor(Gujarat) Rajen Gohain(Assam) and Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi(Karnataka) ae also likely to be inducted.

Many of these leaders today met party chief Amit Shah, who is also likely to announce the party’s organisational team soon.

Frank Noronha, Principal spokesperson of the government, tweeted today that the cabinet expansion will take place tomorrow at 11 AM.

There is also a vacancy in the Council of Ministers after Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal became the Chief Minister of Assam.

The first expansion had occurred in November 2014.

There are currently 64 Union ministers, including the Prime Minister, and there can be a maximum of 82 of them under a constitutional bar.

The sources said the expansion comes after an exhaustive vetting and selection process to find the best talent. People were assessed on the value they would bring to the Union Council of Ministers, they said.

The sources said this marks a firm departure from the usual routine of frequent changes based on caste, religion and other time serving political considerations and is a firm endorsement of developmental politics that the prime minister champions.

The selection was based on the new ministers’ professional expertise, experiences in both Centre and states besides keeping the youth factor in mind.

According to sources, the new ministers are going to be “strategically deployed” to further the priority areas of the government.

The selection framework clearly laid out by the Prime Minister was to bring in “doers and performers” who would deliver on his vision of development and good governance, and take forward his central priority of “Gaon, Garib and Kisan”.

Sources added the new ministers were identified from various walks of life, who would bring to bear their unique rich experience and expertise to office.

While P P Chaudhary is a senior Supreme Court advocate with over four decades of experience in constitutional litigation, Subhash Ram Rao Bhamre is a well-known doctor with a super specialisation in cancer surgery and M J Akbar is a veteran editor and internationally acclaimed journalist.

Arjun Ram Meghwal is a former government officer from Rajasthan with rich administrative experience and Anil Madhav Dave has published multiple books in Hindi and is active in Narmada River Conservation.

Among the new faces who have central government experience are Faggan Singh Kulaste, who has been a Minister of State for Tribal Affairs and Vijay Goel has been a Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports in the previous NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpaaye.

The new ministers having state government experience include Ramesh Jigajinagi, a Cabinet Minister of Home in Karnataka, Purshotam Rupala, Cabinet Minister of Agriculture in Gujarat, Jasvantsinh Bhabhor, Minister of Tribal Affairs and Rural Development in Gujarat, Mahendra Nath Pandey, a Minister of Urban Development in Uttar Pradesh.

To help bring fresh talent who will bring their own new perspective and exuberance, some youth have also been included. These include Anupriya Patel and Mansukh Mandaviya, who has worked in the agriculture sector in Gujarat.

Kulhaste has been a six-time MP, Jigajinagi and Ahluwalia, both five-time MPs and Vijay Voel and Gohain, four-time MPs.

Bhabhor and Kulaste represent the ST community, while Tamta, Athalwale, Meghwal, Jigajinagi and Krishna Raj represents the SC community.

The 19 ministers come from states like UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Assam.

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