The 58-year-old leader, who was handling the key water resources portfolio, reportedly resigned on Thursday on health grounds. It is not yet clear whether she would be moved to another ministry.
Two days ago, asked about her resignation, Ms Bharti had given a cryptic response to reporters. “I have gone deaf. Ask party chief Amit Shah. Only he can answer this,” the saffron-clad leader who is not known for mincing words, had said.
The big reshuffle ahead of the 2019 general election is seen a clean-up act in part, where half-a-dozen ministers who have not been able to deliver have been eased out.
The water resources ministry anchors the Namami Gange — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hugely ambitious programme to clean up the river Ganga. The Rs.20,000 crore project was launched with the twin missions of cleaning up pollution and rejuvenating the river. But in face of huge challenges, including controlling the polluting industries on its banks, it is seen as making slow progress.
The reshuffle is also meant to free-up key leaders for handling the BJP in states that would be facing assembly elections over the next few months and there is speculation that Ms Bharti may be given an organizational role. The leader, who represents Jhansi in the Lok Sabha, was successfully pitched as an OBC face of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2014 general elections.
A former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh — where assembly polls will be held next year — Bharti had stayed away from the state since Shivraj Singh occupied the top post. The tempestuous leader had rebelled against her party’s decision to install Mr Chouhan as the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister. It was one of the issues that had contributed to her expulsion from the party in 2005.