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Cabinet reshuffle buzz gains ground ahead of BJP’s national executive meeting

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As the BJP is set for its national executive meeting and prepares for upcoming polls, the possibility of a reshuffle in the Union Council of Ministers this month has gained ground with the performance of ministers and the ruling party’s political imperatives likely to drive changes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rejigged his team only once, in July 2021, in his second term, unlike in his first stint, when he reshuffled and expanded his council three times.

Though there has been no official word, sources said the changes may occur anytime this month before the start of the Budget Session of Parliament on January 31.

The BJP’s executive meeting is on January 16-17.

There is a view that the party’s standout win in the Gujarat assembly polls and the lessons drawn from the loss in the Himachal Pradesh assembly and the Delhi municipal elections may play a factor in ministerial changes, besides its political needs in poll-bound states like Karnataka, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

With a “360-degree view”- often the buzzword in all major exercises the party undertakes – and the reshuffle likely to be the last as the Lok Sabha polls are now only 15 months away, evolving political equations in big states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Telangana will also play a role in the changes.

Similarly, there is buzz that changes may also be brought in the party’s organisation.

The changes in Modi’s council of ministers have always been marked by shock exits and surprise entries, and have also hit headlines for the changes in portfolios of incumbents.

Last time, Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad were dropped from the cabinet while former IAS officer Ashwini Vaishnaw was inducted and given key ministries like railways and information technology.

Since the last reshuffle, several vacancies have also arisen with the exits of Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and the ministerial picks from allies Janata Dal (United) and Shiv Sena, both of which are now in the opposition camp.

In the reshuffle, the Shiv Sena faction headed by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who commands the support of a majority of Sena MPs, is likely to get representation.

There is also a view that the BJP may reward Chirag Paswan who is seen as the political heir to his father and stalwart Dalit leader from Bihar Ram Vilas Paswan.

Currently, his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras is a Union minister after he formed a separate group with the support of five of the six MPs of the original party.

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