Minister of State for Skill Development Rajeev Pratap Rudy on Thursday night resigned from the Union Council of Ministers, while six others are believed to have offered to resign from their posts, ahead of much-speculated reshuffle shortly.
Union ministers Uma Bharati, Radha Mohan Singh, Giriraj Singh, Kalraj Mishra, Nirmala Sitharaman, Mahendra Nath Pandey, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Sanjiv Baliyan are understood to have offered to quit after a nudge from the party to pave way for the Cabinet reshuffle, informed sources said.
In a late night development, Rudy met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and handed over his resignation.
Earlier in the day, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah, along with General Secretary (Organisation) Ram Lal, met more than half-a-dozen union ministers at his residence and is believed to have sought their resignations, saying their services would be utilised in the party organisation.
Sources said that it was only after after this development that these leaders offered to resign from their posts.
AIADMK leader and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M. Thambi Durai met Shah on Thursday, leading to speculation that the party might become part of the Union Council of Minister. However, sources said the AIADMK’s entry might be delayed till the problems in the party were resolved.
The reshuffle could also see the entry of Janata Dal-United (JD-U) nominees into the ministry, with the party striking an alliance with the BJP in Bihar recently.
There is speculation that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley may shed the additional charge of Defence he is holding now.
Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari’s name is doing the rounds for Railway Minister’s post. Incumbent Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu offered to quit last week in the wake of recent back-to-back train derailments that claimed around two dozen lives. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kept it on hold.
The appointment of Union Minister of State Mahendra Nath Pandey as the next BJP chief of Uttar Pradesh lent greater impetus to an imminent Cabinet reshuffle that may take place on Saturday, a day ahead of Modi’s depature on a two-nation visit to China and Myanmar from September 3 to 6.
There have been clear indications of an upcoming Cabinet reshuffle from sources in the government and the ruling BJP, but the timing remains uncertain.
President Ram Nath Kovind embarks on a two-day visit to Andhra Pradesh on Friday and will be returning on Saturday, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be leaving for China on Sunday.
Sources in the BJP said that a reshuffle may take place either on Saturday or sometime after the Prime Minister’s return from China and Myanmar.
BJP President Amit Shah, who is likely to be in Vrindavan for the next three days to attend an RSS coordination meet, on Thursday held meetings with some ministers and senior party leaders.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are also likely to attend the meet in Vridavan on Saturday.
A cabinet reshuffle has been on the cards since Manohar Parrikar resigned as Defence Minister to become Chief Minister of Goa. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been holding additional charge of the Defence Ministry since then.
Talk of a reshuffle gained ground after Jaitley on Thursday hinted that he would not continue to hold the Defence portfolio for long.
“At least not for very long,” Jaitley said in response to questions on how long he would continue as Defence Minister.
Besides Jaitley, three other union ministers are also holding additional charges of different ministries.
Textiles Minister Smriti Irani is holding additional charge of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, while Rural Development Minister Narendra Tomar has additional charge of the Urban Development Ministry, after Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu resigned from his ministerial responsibilities to take up the high office.
Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan is holding additional charge of the Environment Ministry following the death of Anil Madhav Dave in May.
Some election-bound states, including Congress-ruled Karnataka, could get greater representation in the Council of Ministers. Karnataka would have assembly polls next year.
The last Cabinet reshuffle took place in July last year, in which Modi inducted 19 new faces and elevated Minister of State for Environment Prakash Javadekar to Cabinet rank. Five junior ministers were also dropped.