New Cabinet to Have Record SC, ST, OBCs; More Women; Announcement at 6 Tomorrow

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The upcoming council of ministers is set to have a special focus on marginalised sections, with a record representation of Schedule Caste communities, top government sources told CNN-News18 on Tuesday. The cabinet reshuffle will take place on Wednesday at 6pm, sources said.

Top sources in the know said the upcoming council of ministers will have a special focus on the representation of ‘soshit, pidit, vanchhit and adivasi’ (underprivileged and tribal communities).

They added that the council will also witness a record representation of Schedule Caste communities, and that about 24 ministers belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) will be inducted, as well. The government’s plan is to provide representation to even the smallest communities, with focus on each state and their relevant regions.

Women’s representation will also be increased in the council, and the average age of the leaders will be lowest in the history of Independent India, the sources said. The sources added that special attention will given to include who have administrative experience, either in the state or Centre.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with top ministers as well as the BJP chief at his residence at 5pm on Tuesday — amid growing buzz of a cabinet reshuffle later in the week — was cancelled earlier. 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.

In a series of interactions held in the first fortnight of June, PM Modi was said to be focusing on the performance of the ministries given the massive challenge of Covid-19 that has wreaked havoc across the country in its second wave. The meetings have lasted anywhere between three to five hours with both cabinet as well as ministers of state being asked to attend the same. On June 5, Modi spoke to morcha chiefs of the BJP, including those of farmers, youth, SC/ST and women. A day later, he met party general secretaries.

Ever since the Modi government came to power in May 2019, there has been no expansion in the Union Cabinet despite some ministers chairing as many as three Cabinet portfolios whereas some ministries do not have an MoS. With the withdrawal of Akali Dal from the NDA, the Modi government currently has ministers only from the BJP.

Political pundits have also indicated that the JD(U), a key ally of the BJP in Bihar, would like to be represented in the ministry. 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. Sarbananda Sonowal who was replaced by Himanta Biswa Sarma as Assam chief Minister, is also likely to be accommodated in the cabinet as would former deputy chief minister of Bihar Sushil Modi.

With Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Goa, Manipur, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh facing assembly polls next year, the BJP wants to add more votes to its kitty. The focus is on several castes and groups that have gone unrepresented or underrepresented in the union and state cabinets. So some faces from western UP, some unrepresented castes or groups, etc., are likely to be given prominent positions in Delhi and even in Uttar Pradesh.

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