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Cabinet expansion, major social scheme likely soon

Saturday, 12 June 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

Aapna Dal’s Annupriya,  Scindia may get berths

As political heat increased here with Uttar Pradesh occupying the centre stage, a Cabinet expansion at the Centre is on the cards with Prime Minister holding a flurry of meetings on Friday with top leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda.

According to sources, among others Aapna Dal (S) leader Annupriya Patel, LS MP from Mirzapur, may be inducted into the Cabinet.

This apart, former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia is also waiting for the “reward” after joining the BJP.

Modi is reviewing the performance of select Ministries, in the second wave of Covid-19, in a series of meetings, sources said amid reports of a possible Cabinet expansion.

A meeting in Friday evening between the BJP’s Big Three — Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and party chief JP Nadda — signals big changes ahead based on the assessment of how the Ministers performed. Some other Ministers were also present at Friday’s meeting.

There is also talk of a major social scheme to be announced in the next few days as the party prepares for important elections next year, including in Uttar Pradesh.

The Prime Minister held a similar meeting for well over five hours on Wednesday at his 7 Lok Kalyan Marg home with seven Ministries and assessed the work done by them during the April-May Covid crisis, when the scale of virus cases and deaths were seen to have caught the Government unprepared. Dharmendra Pradhan, Prakash Javadekar and Hardeep Puri were among the Union Ministers he met.

Sources said it is an annual exercise that usually takes place before the anniversary of the Modi Government but was delayed this time due to the pandemic.

Since it is a performance review, it has fuelled speculation of a Cabinet expansion, said to be long overdue. There are around half a dozen Ministers who hold more than one Ministry.

The Prime Minister can have up to 79 Ministers, which means there are more than two dozen vacancies in the Union Cabinet.

The review meeting comes days after the Prime Minister announced that the Centre would take back control of vaccination from States and provide vaccines free of charge to all above 18 from June 21.

Wednesday’s meeting, sources said began at 5 pm and continued till 10 in the night.  Nadda was also present.

The Ministries made brief presentations on various decisions taken by them, sources in the Government said.

Under review were Petroleum Ministry, Steel Ministry, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Heavy Industries and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change.

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