Newly elected Rajya Sabha member Saroj Pandey is likely to be given a key ministry.
A mini Cabinet reshuffle is being discussed among the top Bharatiya Janata Party leadership keeping in mind the state elections in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan that are scheduled for later this year.
Party sources said that newly elected Rajya Sabha member from Chhattisgarh, Saroj Pandey, is likely to be given a prominent ministry that has been in news for the wrong reasons. Pandey, who got the RS nomination despite her name being opposed by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, is being pushed by the top leadership of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Chhattisgarh, which sends 10 MPs to the Lok Sabha and five to the Rajya Sabha, has only one minister, Vishnu Deo Sai, who is MoS Steel, in the Cabinet.
Saroj Pandey has been an MLA and Lok Sabha MP from Durg and has also served as the president of the BJP Mahila Morcha. She is presently the national general secretary of the party.
The top leadership of the RSS is upset with the working of a particular minister, who, according to the RSS, has generated unwarranted controversies in the last four years for the government and wants the minister to be dropped. The reshuffle is likely to take place next month after the Karnataka elections.
Another name that is likely to find a place in the Cabinet is Bhupender Yadav, who was recently nominated to the Upper House from Rajasthan. Yadav is considered to be a protégé of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Rajasthan, which sends 25 MPs to the Lok Sabha and 10 to the Rajya Sabha, has four Lok Sabha MPs as Union ministers who include two Rajputs (Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Rajya Vardhan Rathore), one Jat (P.P. Choudhary) and one Dalit (Arjun Ram Meghwal) and, hence, Yadav, who belongs to the backward class, will also help the party to attract backward voters in the state where BJP is seen to be on a weak ticket in the forthcoming Assembly elections.
Though Vijay Goel and K.J. Alphons, who are Rajya Sabha members from Rajasthan, are a member of the Union Cabinet, they are not from Rajasthan.
As of now, the Cabinet has 74 ministers, including the Prime Minister and as per rules, the Union Cabinet can have a maximum of 81 ministers. The two vacancies created by the resignation of the Telugu Desam party (TDP) MPs have also necessitated this mini-reshuffle. The two TDP MPs, Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Y.S. Chowdary, were heading the Civil Aviation Ministry and Science and Technology (minister of state rank), respectively.
Shiv Sena, which is at loggerheads with the BJP, is also likely to be offered a place in the Cabinet, sources have said.