Leaner, compact Narendra Modi cabinet to take oath today

Narendra Modi is all set to be sworn-in as the 14th prime minister of India (not counting acting prime minister Gulzarilal Nanda) along with 44-member council of minister, including 23 cabinet ministers, 10 ministers of state (independent charge) and 11 ministers of state, in the evening today.

Narendra ModiModi, who had promised to have a compact government with more emphasis on governance, is expected to downsize the ministry through mergers or reallocation of portfolios.

In contrast, the outgoing Manmohan Singh government had over 70 ministers.

Reports suggest that Rajnath Singh will be the new home minister and the number two in Modi's council. Arun Jaitley is expected to be given finance portfolio, while Sushma Swraj will handle external affairs.

Reports say Jaitley will also be handling the defence portfolio while some reports hinted at Modi keeping defence to himself for now.

Others in the list of cabinet ministers are Nitin Gadkari, Venkaiah Naidu, Sadananda Gowda, Ram Vilas Paswan, Gopinath Munde, Kalraj Mishra, Maneka Gandhi, Ananth Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Ashok Gadpati Raju, Ananth Geete, Harsimrat Kaur, Narendra Singh Tomar, Jewl Oram, Thavarchand Gehlot, Smriti Irani, Uma Bharti, Najma Heptullah, Radha Mohan Singh and Harsh Vardhan.

However, the name of senior party leader LK Advani is nowhere in the list and many expect the patriarch to be given the role of mentor or NDA chairman.

The role of party veteran Murli Manohar Joshi is also not known.

Ministers of state with independent charge are Jitendra Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Dharmendra Pradhan, Sarbananda Sonowal, Prakash Javadekar, Piyush Goel, VK Singh, Rao Inderjit Singh, Santosh Kumar Gangwar and Shripad Naik.

The list of ministers of state include GM Siddeshwara, Manoj Sinha, Upendra Kushwaha, Radhakrishnan P, Kiren Rijiju, Krishan Pal Gujar, Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, Mansukhbhai Baswa, Rao Sahab Dhanwe, Vishnudev and Sudarshan Bhagat.

Modi's close confidante Arun Jaitley is likely to be awarded the finance ministry while another senior party leader Sushma Swaraj, who had vehemently opposed Modi's appointment as BJP's PM candidate for 2014 General Elections, is expected to get the charge of foreign affairs.

Among other senior party leaders, former BJP president Nitin Gadkari may be appointed as the transport minister and Dr Harsh Vardhan in all probability made the health minister.

Other leaders such as Venkaiah Naidu, Smriti Irani, Poonam Mahajan, Kirit Somaiya, Kalraj Mishra, Ananth Kumar, Sumitra Mahajan and Satyapal Singh as also new leaders like General VK Singh are expected to bag key cabinet berths.

Modi has emphasised that the top layers of government will be downsised and there would be expansion at the grass-root level.

The various portfolios will be arranged in a rational manner with a view to club similar departments in such a way to "convert entity of assembled ministry to be an organic entity''.