New Delhi: Two Union ministers -- Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and R.C.P. Singh -- whose Rajya Sabha term was coming to an end on July 7, submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. While Mr Naqvi, the sole Muslim face in the Narendra Modi council of ministers, was heading the minority affairs ministry and was also the BJP’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, Mr Singh, a JD(U) leader, held the steel portfolio. Mr Naqvi was also the only Muslim MP of the BJP among its nearly 400-plus members of Parliament.
Mr Naqvi’s name is, incidentally, also doing the rounds as among the likely candidates to succeed vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the Rajya Sabha Chairman. The election for the next vice-president is scheduled to be held on August 6, and July 19 is the last date for filing nominations.
Late on Wednesday evening, the government announced that textiles minister Smriti Irani had been given the additional charge of the minority affairs ministry, while civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia would hold additional charge of the steel ministry.
Sources said Mr Modi lauded both Mr Naqvi and Mr Singh at a meeting of the Union Cabinet on Wednesday for their contributions to the nation during their ministerial tenure. Both submitted their resignations in order to fulfil their constitutional obligation as they will cease to be MPs from Friday. After the Cabinet meeting, Mr Naqvi is also learnt to have met BJP president J.P. Nadda.
Mr R.C.P. Singh, who was once considered close to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, is a former bureaucrat. Mr Singh resigned on his birthday, one year after joining the Cabinet from his party’s quota. The JD(U) denied him another term in the Upper House of Parliament amid reports that he had grown closer to the BJP, that apparently miffed the JD(U)’s leadership. The PM wished him a happy birthday in the morning.
With Mr Singh’s resignation, there are only two ministers at the Centre from the BJP’s allies -- Ramdas Athawale from the RPI(A) and Anupriya Patel from the Apna Dal. As the Union Cabinet has two more vacancies and no representation from the BJP’s biggest ally, the JD(U), there is a possibility of a Cabinet expansion-cum-reshuffle in the near future....