Having installed two compatriots as the President and the Vice-President of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's focus would now shift to cabinet expansion and reshuffle with a clear vision for 2019 Lok Sabha polls.The exercise could also mark some major organisational changes too as the party is more than keen to target winning maximum Lok Sabha seats from amongst 189 parliamentary constituencies in eastern and southern India.
An indication to this came clearly with the change of guard at the NITI Aayog even as the ouster of outgoing Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya being attributed to his going back to the academics. Many in the BJP saw a lackluster performance in Mr Panagariya's stint and now he has been replaced by Rajiv Kumar, an economist, who was once Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Unlike Panagariya, who was from a purely academic background, Kumar has worked with the government machinery in the past as he was a member of the Government of India's National Security Advisory Board between 2006 and 2008 during UPA regime.
The Prime Minister's cabinet expansion expected sooner than later has been necessitated by the vacant slots in the team as the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had to be shifted to Goa, Information and Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu now moves as the new Vice-President and former Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave unfortunately expired. Moreover, BJP chief Amit Shah and PM Modi would also like to focus on southern states as this will be the ground zero besides West Bengal, Odisha and northeast from where the saffron outfit would expect to pick up as many seats as possible. "We have reaped the benefits of working in our strongholds in 2014....now it is time to look at states and region which have been infertile for BJP in terms of seats even as party's acceptability had started long back in these states," a key party leader said. Out of these states -- it makes a substantial number of 189 seats in the Lower House of Parliament. Therefore, even the Cabinet expansion could be surprising and would possibly try to attract attention of the states like Telangana (which has 17 Lok Sabha seats), Odisha (21), West Bengal (42), Tamil Nadu (39), Andhra Pradesh (25), Kerala (20) and seven north eastern states (25).(UNI)