Buzz in Delhi: Is a cabinet reshuffle around the corner? 

With the MCD polls over, the buzz has shifted to Presidential election and a possible Cabinet reshuffle. BJP’s secret internal survey and Amit Shah’s meetings are keeping the idle busy

Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images


The Musical Chair in Delhi

The gossip capital of the country is agog with talks of another Cabinet reshuffle. Will Uma Bharti be dropped? She has publicly admitted her role in the Babri Masjid demolition and is proud of it. And, soon she will be tried in the conspiracy case about to begin in Lucknow. Manohar Parrikar’s place is yet to be filled up and Prime Minister Narendra Modi may like to refurbish the ministry now that only two years are left for the next general election.

There is intense speculation of several politicians from other parties who have joined the BJP or are about to join BJP, being accommodated in the ministry though it appears highly unlikely. Names of SM Krishna and the Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Thambidurai and the Congress heavyweight from Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath, have already been bandied around.

What, however, seems certain is a promotion for the low profile Union minister of state for Railways Manoj Sinha. An engineering graduate from BHU, Sinha is believed to be close to both the PM and Amit Shah. What’s more, he had almost become the Uttar Pradesh chief minister before Adityanath Yogi’s nomination at the last minute.

At a dinner he hosted for friendly newsmen and MPs from Poorvanchal recently, it was hinted that he could be the next Defence Minister.

Shekhar Gupta also ropes in industrialists

While industrialists Rajeev Chandrashekhar and TV Mohandas Pai are said to have invested in Arnab Goswami’s yet-to-be-launched television channel Republic TV, former Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta’s digital media venture, Printline Media Private Limited, appears to have received investment from the family trust of Nandan Nilekani and the trading and finance company of Pallavi Kotak, wife of Uday Kotak, besides investment from Kiran Mazumdar Shaw on behalf of Carica Investments.

Amit Shah’s flying visit to Mumbai

On one of his flying visits to Mumbai, the BJP national president was reportedly briefed on a survey conducted by a Mumbai-based agency. The agency predicted that in the next general election BJP would do exceptionally well in the Left bastions of Kerala and Tripura, in West Bengal and Odisha, which will more than compensate the slight reduction of seats likely in Uttar Pradesh. The survey on the national mood apparently predicted that there would be no anti-incumbency against the BJP in 2019 and that BJP on its own will be bagging 311 seats. But, Amit Shah clearly is not leaving anything to chance.

Babulal Marandi’s meeting with the BJP president

Former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi , claims a section within the BJP, is toying with the idea of returning to the BJP. After trying in vain to build up Jharkhand Vikas Manch (Prajatantrik) as an alternative to the BJP, the Jharkhand leader is believed to have met Amit Shah recently. A BJP Member of the Rajya Sabha and a Kolkata-based industrialist who owns newspapers in Ranchi and Patna are said to have facilitated the meeting. While Shah reportedly suggested that he should merge JVM(P) with the BJP and accept a Rajya Sabha seat, another industrialist apparently advised Marandi to join the Congress, where he would be the undisputed leader in the state. Last heard, the leader was torn between the two offers.

Govindji’s birthday bash

The Prime Minister and Amit Shah did not finally turn up at the Mavlankar Hall of the Constitution Club. But the auditorium was full and full-throated slogans of Jai Shri Ram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai reverberated. Rajya Sabha MPs RK Sinha and Subramanian Swamy of the BJP and Hari Vansh from JD(U) were present and so was Ram Bahadur Rai, chairman of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). While Swamy drew repeated applause by repeating his familiar call to break Pakistan into four parts, his enthusiastic suggestion that Sanskrit be made the language of communication between two states received less response. A ‘Gau Rakshak’ Swami from Haryana was so amused that he could be overheard telling his chelas in chaste Haryanvi: “ We have difficulty following Hindi and this fellow wants us to do official work in Sanskrit.”

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