Narendra Modi: India’s PM Set to Expand His Cabinet

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Wednesday, July 7, 2021/Delhi-
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to announce a major cabinet expansion to include several new ministers and portfolios.

The move comes ahead of key state elections that are due next year.

The reshuffle – the first since Mr Modi took office in 2019 – will prioritise candidates with administrative experience, reports say.

Mr Modi’s cabinet currently has 52 ministers, but it can be expanded to include up to 81 members.

The announcement is expected at 18:00 local time (12:30 GMT). But speculation is already rife in local media about the candidates.

The list includes Jyotiraditya Scindia, 50, a former opposition MP who switched to Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last year; Narayan Rane, the 69-year-old former chief minister of Maharashtra state; and 41-year-old Varun Gandhi, who has long been a BJP member, but belongs to the family of the main opposition Congress party.

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Government sources have told local media that there will be more women in the expanded cabinet, but only two women’s names – Apupriya Patel and Rita Bahuguna Joshi – are in the list of likely new ministers.

Four new governors were appointed and four others were moved ahead of Wednesday’s announcement.

Thawarchand Gehlot, a federal minister for social justice, is one of the new governors.

The government also announced a new portfolio – the ministry of co-operation – to provide “a separate administrative, legal and policy framework” for co-operatives in India.

Experts say the reshuffle and expansion is geared towards state elections in 2022 in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Punjab.