The much-speculated Union Cabinet expansion kicked off on Tuesday with Union Minister and Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Thawarchand Gehlot being appointed as the Governor of Karnataka.
Gehlot, the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, was among eight new Raj Bhavan appointees in Karnataka, Goa, Tripura, Jharkhand, Haryana, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
PS Sreedharan Pillai has been transferred from Mizoram to Goa, while Satyadev Narayan Arya was shifted from Haryana to Tripura. Ramesh Bais, who was the Governor of Tripura, has been appointed the Governor of Jharkhand, while Bandaru Dattatraya was moved from Himachal Pradesh to Haryana.
Former Vishakhapattanam MP Hari Babu Kambhampati will take charge as the Governor of Mizoram and Mangubhai Chhaganbhai Patel will take charge of the Raj Bhavan in Madhya Pradesh. Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar will be the new Governor of Himachal Pradesh.
Gehlot’s exit from the Narendra Modi cabinet is significant amid intense speculation of the ministerial team being expanded to include regional leaders as well as allies ahead of crucial assembly elections next year. The MP from Shajapur in Madhya Pradesh had replaced the late Arun Jaitley as Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha.
Sources had earlier told India Ahead that the cabinet expansion could see portfolios of two top ministers being rejigged, while Textiles and Women & Child Development Smriti Irani could be given additional responsibility.
Among those tipped to enter the cabinet are BJP leaders Sarbananda Sonowal, the former Assam chief minister who made way for Himanta Biswa Sarma in the state, and Jyotiraditya Scindia who jumped ship from the Congress last year. Lok Janshakti Party founder the late Ram Vilas Paswan’s brother Pashupati Kumar Paras could also be part of the expansion.