With Nitish Kumar returning to the NDA fold, the Janata Dal (United) is likely to be a part of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government in the next round of expansion, sources said. BJP sources said a cabinet expansion has been on the cards as senior minister M Venkaiah Naidu is expected to be elected as the vice-president in the August 5 election. While Naidu has left two ministries — Urban Development and Information and Broadcasting — two other key portfolios are already without full-time ministers.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan are holding the additional charge of Defence and Environment portfolios, respectively. While Manohar Parrikar’s move to Goa as the Chief Minister in March left the Defence Ministry without a full- time Cabinet minister, the death of Anil Dave in May caused a vacancy in the Environment Ministry.
BJP Parliamentary board’s decision to nominate party chief Amit Shah as its nominee for Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat has triggered speculation that he could also become part of Modi’s cabinet. However, sources in the BJP said it is unlikely, as Shah would not hold both the posts simultaneously. They ruled out the possibility of Shah being replaced by another leader at the helm of affairs of the BJP before 2019 polls.
But the party leaders said JD(U) could be a part of the government if Nitish Kumar wanted so. “We have not discussed the matter yet, but if Nitish wants, his party MPs could be inducted into the government,” said a senior party leader. Modi had expanded his cabinet in November 2014 and July 2015.