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National
Goa Chief Minister Parrikar likely to be Union Defence Minister
06-11-2014

NEW DELHI: Speculations are ripe on Wednesday night over the possibility of a Union cabinet reshuffle, may be as early as Sunday, as Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi amidst reports that he could get the defence portfolio.

There is talk that there could be an induction of as many as 10 ministers. The names of Jat leader from Haryana Birender Singh, who also had a meeting with BJP President Amit Shah, Giriraj Singh, an MP from Bihar, and GS Shekhawat, MP from Rajasthan, are doing the rounds for inclusion in the Union Council of Ministers.

Talk of the cabinet expansion gained currency after Parrikar arrived here during the day cancelling a Goa cabinet meeting and straight going into a meeting with Shah. Later in the night, he followed it up with a meeting with Modi with whom he shares a good rapport.

In all his brief interactions with media on two-three occasions, the chief minister did not deny suggestions that he was being tipped to be the defence minister.

“I can comment on it only after meeting the Prime Minister. Let the Prime Minister who has invited me comment,” he said when asked about the media speculation after his meeting with Shah.

However, after his meeting with Modi he told reporters that they only discussed Goa issues and there was no talk on his induction in the Union Cabinet. “I have not discussed nor has he discussed anything about that. So, as of now the issue is dead. The news is dead,” he said.

“I had requested for a meeting (with Modi) to discuss issues of Goa and this is what was discussed. He has accepted my demands for Goa,” he said. When asked if he would continue as chief minister, he said, ‘Obviously’.

The defence portfolio is currently held as an additional charge by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who also has Corporate Affairs Ministry under his fold. More than six ministers are currently holding more than one portfolio.

Road Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari also holds the charge of Rural Development Ministry, while Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also has the charge of IT and Communications Ministry.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has I&B ministry as an additional charge while Power Minister Piyush Goyal also looks after Coal and Mines.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu also has Urban Development while Nirmala Sitharaman, MoS in Finance Ministry, also has independent charge of Commerce.

Among the other names doing the rounds for inclusion are first time MP Jayant Sinha, son of former minister Yashwant Sinha, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Anurag Thakur. If the induction takes place, this will be the first recasting of the ministry by Modi who assumed office in May after the general elections.

Sunday is being talked about as the day for the exercise as Modi is scheduled to leave on a three-nation nine-day tour on November 11. Parliament is scheduled to see the start of Winter Session from Nov 24 and so the new ministers could have some time to prepare themselves for facing the House.