It is becoming more and more clear every day that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is gearing up for the crucial Lok Sabha elections in 2019. One of the recent occurrences that point to that is the expected changes that are to take place in the Modi cabinet. Earlier, it was just speculation, but now, top sources inside the NDA have revealed that changes may be made in Modi Cabinet as early as September 2. It is expected that many ministers will lose their portfolio while other ministers may get to shoulder the responsibility. Sources have also revealed that the changes in the central cabinet this time will not be limited to the change in portfolio of ministers. In a major change, the central government is planning to merge various similar ministries such as agriculture and fertilizer, railways and civil aviation, etc. One of the reasons for the merger of ministries could be that the government wants to keep the control of key sectors to its top leaders. This makes sense since the government may want to avoid any unnecessary troubles before the crucial Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
Sources said that the government may also be planning to clip the wings of Shiv Sena, which has been acting and speaking against the BJP since a very long time now, even when the party is a part of the alliance. It is being said that AIADMK is likely to join the NDA soon and when that happens, it would become easier for NDA to manage Shiv Sena. With its eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the government is also planning to appoint new governors in various states. Having a friendly Governor in place is often crucial for orchestrating a smooth federal system. It is also appropriate during elections and at the time of formation of government. The names that are currently being suggested for the post of Governors include Lalji Tandon, Kalraj Mishra, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, etc.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may be appointed Deputy Prime Minister after 2019 elections
The proposed cabinet changes will also aim to give opportunities to existing NDA allies as well as new allies. It includes allies at both national and state level. Currently, several ministers in Modi Cabinet have multiple ministries under their control. Some of these ministries can be taken away from respective portfolios and given to new members. Sources said that one more minister from Uttarakhand may be inducted in the Modi Cabinet. Newly joined NDA member Janata Dal United or JD(U) is also expected to be given cabinet berths. JD(U) minister R.P.Singh is expected to be inducted in the cabinet ministry and Santosh Kumar is expected to be given the post of state minister. According to sources, the biggest change will be the appointment of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as the Deputy Prime Minister of India. This is expected to happen after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Bihar would be crucial for the NDA to win the 2019 elections and the Deputy PM post will be the reward for Nitish Kumar if he does well.
The Cabinet changes can also be done keeping in mind the assembly elections that are to take place in the near future. Cabinet posts can be given to leaders from Karnataka, Gujarat, and Himachal Pradesh, since these states will conduct assembly elections in the coming months. The cabinet reshuffle will also affect some top names. For example, Uma Bharti, Radha Mohan Singh, and Rajiv Pratap Rudy could be removed from the cabinet. Arun Jaitley is likely to continue as the Finance Minister, but Defense Ministry, which is currently under him, may be given to Piyush Goyal. Sources said that the cabinet changes that will be done in the coming days will the last such change till 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The new cabinet team will lead NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
In other expected changes, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan may be given a promotion. The Ujjawala Yojna was a major central scheme lunched by the NDA government and the scheme was launched under Dharmendra Pradhan. The scheme has become quite popular among the masses and is expected to translate into votes. Just like NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) was beneficial for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Ujjawala scheme is expected to benefit Dharmendra Pradhan. Other ministers who are expected to get cabinet posts include Rajwardhan Singh Rathod, Jayant Sinha, Ram Madhav, and Bhupendra Yadav. Top leaders from various states such as Shivraj Singh, Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje can also be given cabinet berths.
Sources also revealed that prominent leaders like Amit Shah will play an important role in finalizing the changes in Modi Cabinet. The Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will also be part of the decision making process.