Union Cabinet reshuffle likely this weekend

Amit Shah

The last Cabinet reshuffle took place in July past year.

Meanwhile, Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu has also offered to exit from the government after a series of rail mishaps more than a week ago and had said that the Prime Minister had asked him to "wait".

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaving on a four-day trip to China on September 3 and the pitru paksha - a 14-day period commemorating one's ancestors and considered far too inauspicious by the BJP to do anything new - beginning on September 6, the only available window expires on September 2, Saturday. Two key ministries opened up after M Venkaiah Naidu was named Vice President.

With so many vacancies created, the Cabinet reshuffle could be a major exercise as different Ministers are holding more than half a dozen portfolio as additional charge.

There is curiosity whether the country will get a full-time Defence Minister this time. The ruling BJP may also accommodate leaders like Bhupendra Yadav, the in-charge of Gujarat, with an eye on elections in the state.

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With BJP having set itself a target of 150 seats in the Gujarat assembly polls coming up later this year, party chief Amit Shah held on Thursday a strategy session with leaders tasked with achieving the goal.

Responding to a poser on his tenure as the defence minister, Jaitley said, "At least I hope not very long".

A reshuffle is being expected in the background of shifting alliances with parties like the Janata Dal (United) of Nitish Kumar joining the BJP-led NDA. The meeting is learnt to have focussed on Assembly elections in Gujarat, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh. Junior Health Minister Faggan Singh Kulaste were also learnt to have been summoned by the BJP president.

The state will go to polls after the closely-observed Rajya Sabha polls recently, which saw Ahmed Patel of the Congress managing to win his seat after a lot of political drama.

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