Goa CM Manohar Parrikar tipped to become new defence minister

November 6, 2014

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to expand his Cabinet on November 9, the first such expansion since he assumed power at the Centre in May. According to sources, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is likely to be inducted in the Union Cabinet as defence minister, while Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu may also get a berth.

Three lists of suggestions for the Cabinet expansion were reportedly prepared by senior BJP leaders. Out of these names the most prominent is that of Goa CM Manohar Parrikar, who was being considered for the post of defence minister.

The leader was initially reluctant to assume the role. However, as the country urgently needs a defence minister, he conveyed his consent to the PM.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley currently holds the additional charge of the defence ministry.

Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu is another prominent name that is likely to feature on the list of inductees on Sunday. The BJP and Shiv Sena have a tense relationship, following their split on seats distribution for Maharashtra Assembly elections. A cabinet berth to a Shiv Sena leader could be used as a measure to undo the damage.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reportedly keen on having Prabhu on his team. The BJP can also offer him a Rajya Sabha seat if the Shiv Sena plays hard ball.

BJP general secretary JP Nadda can be given prominent portfolios like Rural Development or Agriculture. This decision is taken after the Prime Minister expressed his unhappiness with the performance of incumbent Radha Mohan Singh. He reportedly told a colleague that he feels that Singh did not come fully prepared for cabinet meetings and had been lagging in his work.

Prime Minister Modi is also likely to induct new ministers from Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Bihar to balance regional considerations.

BJP MP from Chandrapur in Maharashtra Hansraj Ahir, who exposed the Coal Mining scam under the UPA regime, is being looked at as a possible candidate for a berth in the Modi cabinet.

Poll-bound Jharkhand is also likely to see an MP join the Modi Cabinet. Yashwant Sinha's son Jayant Sinha is the most likely inductee. He may be given the post of MOS Finance. Given his international work experience and his ability to interface with global investors, he is likely to share the work load of Nirmala Seetharaman who has been doing a good job but is overburdened.

Sinha has been able to impress Arun Jaitley, who is reportedly keen on having Sinha on his team.

Modi is also likely to induct two ministers from Rajasthan. Vasundhra Raje has sent a list to the PM. She is likely to be called to Delhi on November 8 for talks with Modi to discuss inductees from the Rajasthan quota.

BJP's Brahmin face from Bihar, Ashwini Chaubey, is likely to get a leg in on the Bihar quota.

BJP has made a non-Jat CM of Haryana and the party is looking to assuage the Jats of the state by inducting a Jat leader from the state into the Cabinet. Rao Birendar Singh has been lobbying hard for a Cabinet berth and is the frontrunner to be inducted from the Haryana quota.

With the BJP looking to expand rapidly in West Bengal, the party is looking to make one of its newly-minted MPs a minister. Babul Supriyo leads the list of probables.

Senior leaders Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Shahnawaz Hussain are likely to be left out yet again when Modi expands his Cabinet.

Vasundhra Raje's son Dushyant Singh is unlikely to feature in the Cabinet expansion.

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