New Delhi, July 7: As many as 43 ministers are likely to take oath in a major cabinet expansion-cum-reshuffle drive on Wednesday evening, sources said, after several Union ministers, including Harsh Vardhan and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, resigned and a number of new entrants met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence here.
Those who met Modi included BJP's Narayan Rane, Sarbananda Sonowal, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ajay Bhatt, Bhupender Yadav, Shobha Karandlaje, Sunita Duggal, Meenakshi Lekhi, Bharati Pawar, Shantanu Thakur and Kapil Patil, JD(U)'s R.C.P Singh, LJP's Pashupati Paras and Apna Dal's Anupriya Patel.
Some ministers of state, including G. Kishan Reddy, Parshottam Rupala and Anurag Thakur, Hardeep Singh Puri, Mansukh Mandaviya, RK Singh and Kiran Rijiju were also there and they may be elevated, sources said.
Sources added that around 43 persons, including those getting a promotion, may take oath, and the team will be a mix of youth and those with administrative experience, including former chief ministers.
Virendra Kumar, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Pankaj Choudhary, S.P.S. Baghel, Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma, Darshana Jardosh, Annpurna Devi, A.R. Narayana Swami, Kaushal Kishor, B.L. Verma, Ajay Kumar, Pratima Bhoumik, Bhagwant Khuba, Subhash Sarkar, Bhagwat Kisanrao Karad, Bharti Pawar, John Barla and Nishit Pramanik were also among those who met Modi in the morning.
BJP president J.P. Nadda, along with senior party leaders Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and B.L. Santhosh were present during the meetings.
Hours before the cabinet expansion, scheduled to be held at 6 pm at Rashtrapati Bhawan, several ministers including Vardhan, Pokhriyal and Sadananda Gowda as also Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar, Minister of State for Education Sanjay Dhotre, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Debasree Chaudhuri, Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria, Minister of State for Environment Babul Supriyo resigned from their positions.
Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot had resigned on Tuesday after he was made Governor of Karnataka.
The Congress on Wednesday said the exercise was not driven by performance or governance but meant for "distribution of the spoils of power" and "adjustment" of defectors.
"Progress and peace and harmony have been thrown into the dustbin of history and the present prime minister would be remembered as an autocrat, who decimated India's economy, who ensured India was pushed into an abyss of unemployment and who ensured that India's strength as the super power of the 21st century was grossly undermined," Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said.
This will be the first reshuffle in his Council of Ministers by Modi since he assumed charge for a second term in May 2019.
The Prime Minister is expected to bring in young faces and give representation to various social groups and regions in the reshuffle, sources said.