India PM plans cabinet revamp, some ministers offer to quit, sources

Narendra Modi GST Goods and Services Tax PRAGATI meeting Pro Active Governance and Timely Implementation PMO Prime Minister Office indirect tax regime Uttar Pradesh Madhya Pradesh Gujarat Haryana Rajasthan Maharashtra Uttarakhand Punjab We

Minister for Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation, Uma Bharti; Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajiv Pratap Rudy; Small & Medium Enterprises Minister, Kalraj Mishra; Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Mahendra Nath Pandey and Minister of State for Water Resources-Sanjiv Baliyan, have quit the government, finally signalling a Cabinet reshuffle. It will also see changes in health ministry (JP Nadda), agriculture (Radha Mohan Singh) and civil aviation, now held by the TDP, as crucial AI disinvestment will have to be undertaken.

Arun Jaitley, who now holds the charge of two portfolios - Finance and Defence, may retain only one. He has enough on his plate already, as data late Thursday showed India's economic growth unexpectedly slumped to the lowest since 2014. No one can say with any degree of certainty who will get which berth or would be dropped.

Power Minister Piyush Goyal and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan are seen as good performers, and may be rewarded with an elevation in the reshuffle. Sources said the PM is so miffed with both his activities and non-performance as minister that his rehabilitation in the BJP set-up may not be a smooth affair. Yet, the reshuffle, which has been confirmed for Sunday, will have the bearing of two major factors: the coming assembly elections in several states and 2019 Lok Sabha elections as no other reshuffle is likely before the next Lok Sabha polls.

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After the recent return of the Janata Dal (United) into the ruling NDA fold, two names making the rounds are Bihar CM Nitish Kumar's confidante Ramchandra Singh and former state CM Karpoori Thakur's son Ramnath Thakur -either for the Cabinet or a Minister of State.

Since assuming office as PM on May 26, 2014, Modi has already reshuffled his council of ministers twice, the last one having come in 2016 when he inducted 19 new faces and elevated Prakash Javdekar as the cabinet minister. The Modi government is on the cusp of purchasing defence equipment and armaments to the tune of Rs 2 lakh crore.

There is also some speculation that Amit Shah may get the defence portfolio, which has been handled by Arun Jaitley ever since Manohar Parrikar was chosen Goa chief minister earlier this year.

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Ravi Shankar Prasad also holds the portfolios of Law & Justice as well as Electronics & Information Technology.

There are seven states without a governor. Exit of 76-year-old Kalraj Mishra as minister nearly seems a fait accompli. Modi, in his address to tax officials on the first day of the two-day annual conference of tax administrators, Rajaswa Gyan Sangam, also emphasised that the honest taxpayers can not continue to pay the price for the misdeeds of the dishonest and that tax officers need to come up with a time-bound solution for "tax raised and not realised".

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