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PM to chair meeting of council of ministers today amid reshuffle buzz

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NEW DELHI, July 2 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a meeting of the union council of ministers on Monday amid a heightened buzz about the likelihood of a cabinet reshuffle following a series of meetings of the ruling BJP’s top brass.

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The Monday meeting is expected to be held at the newly built convention centre at Pragati Maidan here, which will host the G20 summit in September.

The political upheaval in Maharashtra on Sunday as NCP leader Ajit Pawar joined the BJP-Shiv Sena government along with several of his party legislators and a number of closed-door meetings involving the BJP’s brain trust, including home minister Amit Shah and party president J P Nadda, have strengthened the view that a cabinet reshuffle is on the cards.

Senior NCP MP and former union minister Praful Patel, who ditched his longtime mentor Sharad Pawar to join hands with his nephew, is being seen as a probable contender among the likely new ministers in the central government.

With Ajit Pawar taking oath as deputy chief minister in Maharashtra; there is also speculation about Devendra Fadnavis, also a deputy chief minister and the key BJP leader in the state, being brought into the central government.

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BJP sources have been indicating that allies will be given representation in the Cabinet whenever Modi decides to go in for a rejig in his council of ministers.

The fact that the period before Parliament’s Monsoon Session, which begins from July 20, could be the last window for such an exercise have added to the reshuffle buzz.

The BJP’s organisation, including in some states, may also see some changes as its top brass makes its choices for key positions with the campaign for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls intensifying, sources said.

Modi held a meeting with Shah and Nadda on June 28. This came after closed-door meetings involving Shah and Nadda, among others, to take stock of organisational and political affairs.

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Any cabinet rejig will factor in the upcoming assembly polls as well.

The BJP has been making hectic preparations for several state polls scheduled this year, with the Congress showing some bounce following its big win in Karnataka.

Elections are due in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Mizoram later this year, and the Congress will be the BJP’s main challenger in the first three states.

 

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