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India's Modi to chop 26 ministerial posts: reports

India's premier-elect Narendra Modi plans to slash 26 government positions under a cabinet revamp set to be unveiled later Monday in a bid to allow more nimble decision-making, reports said.

NEW DELHI: India's premier-elect Narendra Modi plans to slash 26 government positions under a cabinet revamp set to be unveiled later Monday in a bid to allow more nimble decision-making, reports said.

Modi's government will number 45 including him, down from 71 in outgoing prime minister Manmohan Singh's scandal-tainted Congress-led coalition administration, the Press Trust of Indian news agency and NDTV channel reported.

The 63-year-old leader, whose Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the first parliamentary majority in 30 years earlier this month, was due to be sworn by the president on Monday along with his cabinet.

"Team Modi" will have 23 full-rank cabinet ministers, down from Singh's 28, while the number of junior ministers known as ministers of state will be reduced to 22 from 43 in Singh's government, the reports said.

Modi, who had promised a "downsized" government, was keeping the list of cabinet appointments a secret right up to the last-minute with local media speculating about his choices.

The BJP's most senior woman leader Sushma Swaraj was widely tipped to be foreign minister, while long-time Modi ally Arun Jaitley, a lawyer, was seen as frontrunner for the vital finance portfolio.

The pick for defence ministry remains uncertain, with Modi himself said to be planning to retain the portfolio earlier in the day but other reports contradicted this.

BJP president Rajnath Singh was predicted to become home minister, while founding BJP member L.K. Advani and fellow elderly stalwart Murli Manohar Joshi looked set for disappointment.

Smriti Irani, an actress famed for her role in a TV soap opera, confirmed she was getting a ministerial berth in a cabinet which she said would feature women prominently.

Modi "has given opportunities to many women who come from many humble backgrounds," Irani, linked to the human resources minister portfolio, told NDTV.

Early Monday, Modi confirmed reports he planned to slash the size of the cabinet in keeping with his campaign promises of "less government, more governance".

Some government departments would be "transformed into Organic Ministries for quicker pace of work & better coordination between departments," he tweeted.

"This is a step towards Smart Governance and will give us added strength to fulfil the aspirations of the people," Modi added.

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