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The President named four new governors, including one of the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) senior-most ministers, Thaawarchand Gehlot, and shifted four others on Tuesday, amid speculation of an imminent cabinet reshuffle, setting in motion the Union government’s first major overhaul since it returned to power two years ago.

The appointments came as senior leaders of the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies flew into the capital ahead of a possible cabinet reshuffle, the first since Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept back to power with an increased majority in 2019.

President Ram Nath Kovind appointed Union social justice minister Gehlot as the governor of Karnataka, former Gujarat minister Mangubhai Chhaganbhai Patel as the governor of Madhya Pradesh, BJP MP Hari Babu Kambhampati as the governor of Mizoram, and former Goa minister Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar as the governor of Himachal Pradesh.

A communiqué from the Rashtrapati Bhavan also said that Mizoram governor P.S. Sreedharan Pillai has been transferred to Goa, Haryana governor Satyadev Narayan Arya to Tripura, Tripura governor Ramesh Bais to Jharkhand, and Himachal Pradesh governor Bandaru Dattatraya to Haryana.

“The above appointments will take effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices," said the statement from the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala, and Jharkhand governor Draupadi Murmu were not given new roles.

The changes indicated that the NDA government was set to enter a new phase in its second stint, said people aware of developments, hinting that more restructuring may be seen in the party organization and parliamentary board ahead of high-stakes Assembly elections in five states next year.

The much-anticipated reshuffle is also expected to see more allies being accommodated in the NDA government; currently, only the Republican Party of India is, and the BJP is keen to shrug off the image of not being able to work with allies. The parliamentary board has five vacancies with the exit of Gehlot.

The Narendra Modi government currently has 21 cabinet ministers, nine ministers of state with independent charge and 23 ministers of state.

It can accommodate a total of 81 members in the council of ministers, which cannot exceed 15% of the total number of members of the Lok Sabha, which stands at 545. Currently, four ministers hold additional charges of five ministries.

After the NDA returned to power in 2019 with 324 seats, the prime minister appointed 53 ministers from the BJP and four from allies, including Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Ramvilas Paswan and Anant Geete.

But over the past two years, at least four positions in the council of ministers fell vacant due to the exit of the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal, the demise of ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Suresh Angadi, and now the appointment of Gehlot as governor.

letters@hindustantimes.com

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