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Cabinet reshuffle may take place in a few days

This reshuffle, two years before the 2019 general elections, is crucial because any new appointee will still have time to deliver before polls.

Last Updated: Aug 24, 2017, 12.40 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: Railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s offer to resign — after two rail accidents in four days — was not accepted on Wednesday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but a new incumbent in the Rail Bhavan is now a possibility in the cabinet reshuffle that’s widely expected in the next few days.

The broad line of government thinking is that the ability to deliver, especially the last mile, for big welfare schemes and not caste or other political considerations will determine the choice of appointees.

Two people familiar with the matter told ET that in case of a change in railways, a senior minister with economic governance credentials or a major BJP state leader may get the job. FM Arun Jaitley, when asked about Prabhu’s offer to resign at a press briefing after the Cabinet meeting, said the PM will take a call.

Senior officials told ET the government hadn’t expected Prabhu to tweet about his meeting with the PM and his offer to resign.

Agriculture is another ministry that’s been discussed in the context of a reshuffle. Other areas of recent focus have been skill development and encouraging entrepreneurship.

Ministries such as environment are being run by ministers with additional charge, and new appointees are likely.

This reshuffle, two years before the 2019 general elections, is crucial because any new appointee will still have time to deliver before polls.

It’s very unlikely that the composition of the Cabinet Committee on Security will change. The committee comprises, apart from the PM, the ministers of finance, home, external affairs and defence.

The PM leaves for China and Myanmar on September 3, and any reshuffle is likely before that.

Political considerations will apply only to the extent of accommodating BJP’s new ally JD(U), which has formally joined, and the ruling party’s considerations of some state-level representation.

More representation from BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh may happen. Two ministers, one cabinet and one junior, may be brought in from JD(U).

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