Skill development minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy resigns - reshuffle round the corner?

Rajiv Pratap Rudy resigns amid reports of likely cabinet reshuffle

As a precursor to the mega exercise, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjeev Balyan, and Faggan Singh Kulaste resigned from the Council of Ministers on Thursday.

BJP chief Amit Shah, who held a meeting with some senior ministers at his residence on Thursday morning, met Modi later in the day.

Apart from holding talks with the PM on the Cabinet reshuffle, the BJP president met several party leaders, to strategies for the Gujarat Assembly polls where the party aims to win 150 out of the 182 Assembly seats and score the fifth consecutive victory.

A rejig of the government has been due for months now, especially after vacancies and transformed alliances.

Before nine new ministers took their oath today, they were told by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that they "have been chosen with great consideration, so now please perform". The rest of the dropped ministers are also likely to be given organisational responsibilities. 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.

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"This is a decision by the Prime Minister, the government and the party and we are the soldiers of the party".

Existing ministers Dharmendra Pradhan (petroleum) and Piyush Goyal (power), who have independent charge of their respective ministries, may be elevated to Cabinet positions.

Among ministers holding the additional portfolios include Smriti Irani, who was given the additional charge of Information and Broadcasting, after the elevation of M Venkaiah Naidu to the Vice President's post.

When Jaitley was asked how long he would have dual charge of the finance and defence ministries, he had replied: "At least, I hope, not very long". BJP general secretary (organisation) Ramlal also joined the meeting later. Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan is holding additional charge of the Environment portfolio following the demise of Anil Madhav Dave in May.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu was among the probables to be removed from the Cabinet, considering the resignation offered by him following the back-toback train derailment incidents in UP's Muzaffarnagar and Auriya districts.