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Modi to go for first cabinet expansion Sunday

Modi to go for first cabinet expansion Sunday

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to reshuffle and expand his cabinet Sunday to inject fresh talent, give wider representation to states and ease pressure on some ministers.

The event is scheduled to take place at the Durbar hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan in the afternoon.

This will be the first cabinet reshuffle since Modi took power in May after leading the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a historic win in the Lok Sabha election.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who resigned Saturday, is widely tipped to become the new defence minister, divesting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of one of his portfolios.

BJP sources say Parrikar may be inducted into the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, where the party has 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha members.

The Sunday event will happen before the start of parliament's winter session Nov 24, giving time to the new ministers to familiarise themselves with the working of their ministries.

Bandaru Dattatreya from Telangana and Sujana Chowdary from Andhra Pradesh are likely to be inducted into the union cabinet.

Dattatreya, a national vice president of the BJP, is a Lok Sabha member from Secunderabad. Chowdary belongs to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and is a member of Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh.

Modi telephoned the two MPs Saturday morning and asked them to be in Delhi Sunday morning, sources in the two parties said.

Dattatreya is the lone BJP MP from Telangana and his inclusion will give representation to the newly created state in the union council of ministers.

Chowdary, a businessman, is a first-time MP and is considered close to TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu.

The widespread feeling is that Modi would like to make his government more broad-based vis-a-vis the geographical spread of his party.

New ministers may be taken from Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar besides Haryana and Maharashtra -- two states where the BJP was elected to power for the first time last month.

Among the names doing the rounds are party J.P. Nadda (Himachal Pradesh), Jayant Sinha (Jharkhand), Ram Kripal Yadav, Girirraj Singh (both Bihar), Vijay Sampala (Punjab), Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Niranjan Jyoti (both Uttar Pradesh), Sanwar Lal Jat (Rajasthan) and Birender Singh (Haryana).

Name of former union minister Suresh Prabhu, Olympic medallist Rajyavardhan Rathore and singer Babul Supriyo Baral are also doing the rounds for inclusion in the council of ministers.

The Modi government now has 22 cabinet members and 22 ministers of state, some holding independent charge.

Many ministers, including Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Prakash Javadekar, Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal hold multiple ministries.

With Modi repeatedly emphasising that his government will work on the mantra of "minimum government, maximum governance", the size of the union council of ministers is not expected to be large.

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