An early reshuffle of the Union Cabinet appears to be on the cards with a united AIADMK expected to join the National Democratic Alliance in the next few days and JD-U having already having decided to join the ruling alliance at the Centre.
The two factions of AIADMK — one led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and the other led by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam — merged on Monday.
Sources said the AIADMK is likely to join the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and could be offered three berths in the union cabinet including one of cabinet rank. The Janata Dal-United, which decided to join the NDA on Saturday, is expected to be offered two berths.
The talk of cabinet reshuffle had gained currency last month after M. Venkaiah Naidu resigned as a Union Minister to become NDA’s candidate in the vice-presidential elections.
The charge of Naidu’s portfolio of Urban Development and Housing and Poverty Alleviation was given to Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Naidu’s other portfolio of Information and Broadcasting was given to Textiles Minister Smriti Irani.
Apart from Tomar and Irani, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan have also been given additional portfolios.
Jaitley was given charge of the weighty Defence portfolio after Manohar Parrikar moved to Goa as chief minister earlier this year following assembly polls in the state. Harsh Vardhan was given charge of environment ministry after death of Anil Madhav Dave.
Some election-bound states including Congress-ruled Karnataka could get greater representation in the council of ministers. Karnataka will go for assembly polls next year.
BJP sources had said last month that the reshuffle would take place after the monsoon session of parliament that ended on August 11.
The reshuffle, which will be third since Narendra Modi government assumed office in 2014, could take place later this week.
Sources said that as ministers from JD-U will be from Bihar, a minister hailing from the state could be dropped in the reshuffle.