The timing of the much-discussed Union Cabinet reshuffle is said to be linked to the AIADMK joining the NDA camp, something which is likely to happen in the first week of August. According to sources, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have entrusted the job of wooing Tamil Nadu’s ruling party to a senior BJP functionary who holds a constitutional post.
The BJP wants to rope in the AIADMK so that the NDA is stronger by the time the Lok Sabha elections come around in 2019. The AIADMK has 50 members in both Houses of Parliament; it is the third largest party in the Lok Sabha after the BJP and the Congress.
With the JD(U) deciding to fall in line last week, a few of its MPs have to be accommodated in the Union Cabinet. Sources said reshuffling the Cabinet now, without the picture being clear on the AIADMK front, would not serve the purpose.
Sources said the thinking at the highest levels of the party is that the three key issues of appointment of governors, Cabinet reshuffle and reconstitution of BJP office-bearers are inter-linked.
Sources indicated that a major announcement over the AIADMK joining the NDA could be expected in the first week of August. The Modi-Shah view is that it would be unfair to leave the largest state in the south, and a party with 50 MPs, unrepresented in the Union Cabinet. The AIADMK had joined the Vajpayee Cabinet before severing ties in 1999.
Tamil Nadu parties, whether with the UPA or in the NDA, used to get representation in the Union Cabinet. At one time the state had nearly 10 ministers at the Centre. Presently, Kanyakumari Lok Sabha member Pon Radhakrishnan is the only minister of state representing Tamil Nadu at the Centre.
Sources indicated there would be a major reshuffle of BJP central office-bearers and parliamentary board which would eventually be linked with the Cabinet reshuffle.
“The proposed changes in both Union Cabinet and the party committees will be the last one before the 2019 elections. It will be an election team,” the source revealed.
The current office-bearers were appointed during the tenure of Rajnath Singh as BJP president, though Mr Shah has appointed a few persons since he became the party chief.