A close aide to the prime minister dismissed talk of a reshuffle as speculation, saying it had no basis.
After a drubbing in a state poll in November, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to overhaul his cabinet to weed out underperformers and improve his government's image. Problem is, several sources said, he can't find the right replacements.
As New Delhi buzzes with speculation about changes in several ministries, senior members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a close aide to Modi said some changes could come early next year but the talent pool was too shallow to engineer a major revamp.
Pressure is mounting on Modi to revive his party's fortunes. Nearly two years after he swept to power on a promise of jobs and growth, the shine is coming off - reforms to revive investment have withered and the economy is stuttering. Rural distress has grown after two successive droughts.
"The challenge is to identify the right candidates who can deliver fast-paced reforms and policies in their work sphere," the prime minister's aide said.
Articulate and suave, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been considered for the defence portfolio, another high-profile role that is crucial to Modi's geopolitical ambitions and plans to boost Indian industry. But there was no one to take Jaitley's place in finance, the sources said.
A spokesman for Modi declined to comment.
An official in Jaitley's office said they didn't have any knowledge of a possible reshuffle.
Modi tends to keep such decisions close to his chest, and the sources said the final decision lay with the prime minister. They added that he has yet to make up his mind on the changes, and that nothing has been confirmed.
Another close aide to the prime minister dismissed talk of a reshuffle as speculation, saying it had no basis.