Amid hectic parleys fuelling rumours of an imminent expansion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet later this week, Jyotiraditya Scindia, former Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and senior party MP Narayan Rane are on their way to Delhi, adding to the buzz that they may soon be part of the prime minister’s team.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, who joined the BJP in March 2019, is still waiting to be given a ministerial berth after having delivered the results in Madhya Pradesh. Meanwhile, Sarbananda Sonowal, who was replaced by Himanta Biswa Sarma as Assam chief Minister, is also likely to be accommodated in the cabinet.
Rane contested the 2014 election from Konkan on Congress’s ticket which he lost. Congress again gave him a ticket to contest the by-poll election for the legislative assembly seat of Bandra East constituency, Rane lost this election to the Shiv Sena candidate. Later in 2017, Narayan Rane with his sons Nitesh and Nilesh floated his own party ‘Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha’, and openly announced that they will support BJP in the state. In 2019, BJP gave a ticket to Rane’s son Nitesh Rane from Konkan and later, Narayan Rane got the Rajya Sabha seat from BJP’s quota.
A strongman from the Konkan coast, Rane is known as a ‘Sena baiter’ and played an instrumental role in the preparation of the report on Maratha reservation. The issue has since picked up pace in the Maharashtra’s political circles. Rane’s elevation could also help the BJP’s chances in the BMC elections next year.
Sources also told CNN-News18 that Lallan Singh and RCP Sinha, frontrunners for the cabinet from the JDU quota, reached Delhi on Tuesday morning. BJP’s alliance partner from Bihar, Janata Dal (United), wants its two MPs to be inducted as union ministers. But the ruling BJP has made it clear that it will be a cabinet post and another for a minister of state.
The Modi government also wanted to include Andhra Pradesh’s ruling YSR Congress in the cabinet but it had indicated its disinclination so far. The Andhra party has bailed the BJP out many times in Parliament with its numbers. Chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy meeting Shah and others indicates that attempts may be on to give a fresh touch to the NDA cabinet.
A crucial meeting of the prime minister with the BJP chief and other senior ministers, possibly to give final touches to the cabinet, was cancelled on Tuesday. Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP chief JP Nadda and party national general secretary BL Santhosh were expected to attend the meeting among others.