Cabinet reshuffle talk gains momentum

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The momentum towards a reshuffle in the Union Cabinet seems to be reaching critical mass with Union Minister for Skill Development Rajiv Pratap Rudy offering to quit, along with Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Faggan Singh Kulaste.

The other ministers who resigned from their positions are Uma Bharti, Radhamohan Singh, Sanjeev Balyan and Giriraj Singh.

Defence minister Arun Jaitley had hinted today that he might be giving up the defence ministry. President Ram Nath Kovind is scheduled to visit Tirupati on Friday and will return to Delhi on Saturday afternoon, making September 2 the most likely date for the reshuffle. Yet trips made by Union ministers such as Kalraj Mishra and Dharmendra Pradhan to Shah's residence only added more grist to the mill.

BJP President Amit Shah had met several senior ministers on Thursday morning. Kalraj Mishra, who is past the unofficial age ceiling of 75 years to serve in the government, is tipped to be headed for a gubernatorial assignment.

Among the ministers who resigned, Pandey was named the Uttar Pradesh BJP chief earlier in the day, and insiders said that Rudy may also be allotted organisational responsibilities.

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"At least not for very long", Jaitley said in response to questions on how long he would continue as Defence Minister.

The united AIADMK - comprising of the factions led by Chief Minister E Palaniswami and and former CM O Panneerselvam - is also expected to join the NDA. Incumbent Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu offered to quit last week in the wake of recent back-to-back train derailments that claimed around two dozen lives. Modi didn't accept the resignation, and asked him to wait. However, reports state that Bharti's resignation has not been accepted by the Prime Minister.

Rudy and Agriculture Minister Radhamohan Singh are two Rajput Ministers from Bihar.

Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan is holding additional charge of the Environment portfolio following the death of Anil Madhav Dave in May.

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