Arun Jaitley hints at giving up defence ministry, sparks of cabinet reshuffle buzz

File Picture Courtesy : Deccan Chronicle

File Picture Courtesy : Deccan Chronicle

As many as eight Union ministers met with BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday, lending strong  credence to speculation about an impending cabinet reshuffle, reports Times of India .

Though the ministers met with Shah, ostensibly only about the upcoming Gujarat polls, Jaitley dropped hints about a reshuffle. He even said – only half joking – that he hoped he wouldn’t remain defence minister for much longer.

According to Times of India report, In addition to holding the defence and finance portfolios, Jaitley is also in charge of the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections. Assisting Jaitley for the Gujarat polls are NS Tomar, N Sitharaman, J Singh and PP Chaudhary. All of them met with Shah on Thursday.

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Bhupendra Yadav tried to play down the meetings with Shah.

“(We) Discussed issues and strategy for the Gujarat elections. No other topics (were) discussed,” said Yadav.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave additional charge of the defence ministry to finance minister Jaitley on March 14, after Manohar Parrikar quit to become the chief minister of Goa.

Both finance and defence are considered ministries with a heavy workload and their incumbents are also members of the Cabinet committee on security. In fact, soon after the BJP swept the 2014 general elections, Jaitley was given additional charge of defence and Parrikar was later inducted as defence minister.

In May this year, science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan was given additional charge of the environment and forest ministry after BJP leader Anil Madhav Dave passed away. This department too is seen to require a full time minister.

In July, textiles minister Smriti Irani was given additional charge of the information and broadcasting ministry after senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu quit to contest – and eventually win – the vice presidential election.

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