NEW DELHI, Sept 2 - Nine new ministers including former IFS officer Hardeep Puri, ex-Mumbai Police chief Satyapal Singh and retired IAS officer Alphons Kannanthanam will be inducted into the Union Council of Ministers tomorrow as part of a major revamp by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The new faces include BJP MPs Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Bihar), Virendra Kumar (Madhya Pradesh) and Shiv Pratap Shukla (Uttar Pradesh). The others are Anant Kumar Hegde, Raj Kumar Singh, Hardeep Puri, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Satyapal Singh and Alphons Kannanthanam.
�The new ministers are going to be strategically placed in key ministries, especially focusing on last mile delivery directly to the people,� a source said. �As a part of the restructuring, six incumbent ministers have resigned,� the source said.
Earlier there was a cloud of uncertainty over the participation of the BJP allies like the JD(U) and Shiv Sena in the reshuffle, the third since the NDA came to power in 2014, and chances of the AIADMK joining the government also appeared slim.
�There was no such talk of JD(U) joining the Union Cabinet. No talks were held on the issue (between the BJP and JD(U),� Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose party JD(U) recently rejoined the NDA, said in Patna.
BJP president Amit Shah returned to the capital today after attending a crucial coordination meeting with various RSS outfits in Vrindavan, and he and Modi gave final touches to the changes.
More than half-a-dozen ministers are expected to make way for new faces in the reshuffle while portfolios of some could be changed. While Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari can be given more responsibility, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who indicated his willingness to resign following a string of train mishaps, may be moved to another key ministry, party sources said.
While carrying out the reshuffle, it was expected that Modi would keep an eye on upcoming state elections in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka and his party�s re-election bid in 2019. After assuming office in May 2014, Modi expanded his council of ministers twice � first on November 9, 2014 and then on July 5, 2016.
Union ministers � Kalraj Mishra, Bandaru Dattatreya, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjiv Kumar Balyan, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahendra Nath Pandey � had resigned yesterday ahead of the reshuffle. Uma Bharti, too, had offered to resign but her fate remains in a balance amid speculation that there may be a few more exits.
Speculation swirled over the likely Defence Minister and names of Suresh Prabhu and Nitin Gadkari are doing the rounds. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is currently holding the additional charge of defence and he has already given indication that he would like to shed charge of the defence.
The current strength of the council of ministers, including the Prime Minister, is 73 and the maximum number of ministers cannot go beyond 81. According to a constitutional amendment, the limit cannot exceed beyond 15 per cent of the total strength of the Lok Sabha which is 545. � PTI