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Cabinet Reshuffle: Performance Pays

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet reshuffle is significant, the Cabinet expansion was made largely keeping the coming assembly elections, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, in mind

Photo Credit : PTI


Most of the commentaries on the Cabinet expansion and reshuffle undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have focused on Smriti Irani’s “demotion” to Textiles from the Education portfolio, and her replacement by Prakash Javadekar.

True, Smriti’s performance was below par. She landed herself in controversies far too often, and even got involved in twitter spats with reporters. Above all, she was considered too arrogant by the bureaucrats as well as the academia. While she flaunted her proximity to the PM, it’s an open secret that the RSS didn’t quite approve of her working style. (Recall how she was dropped by the BJP national executive last year).

Her replacement, Prakash Javadekar, is a study in contrast.

While it’s true that Javadekar’s environment and forest ministry, too, was surrounded by controversies, he is also known as a mild mannered and forward looking leader. A favourite with the RSS (he started his political career as an ABVP activist), it’s expected that he will keep the parivar’s interests in mind, while being a reformist. The PM hopes that he will bring the much-needed stability to the HRD ministry.

It’s Javadekar’s replacement by Anil Madhav Dave that shows how Modi has balanced his political compulsions with talent and aptitude. Madhya Pradesh’s Dave is known in the national capital as someone who deftly handled the select group on real estate as its chairman, which eventually led in the landmark real estate bill being passed in Parliament. Other than his parliamentary responsibilities, Dave, back in MP, is known as a keen environmentalist, who often undertakes aerial expeditions to study the course of the Narmada. He has also written extensively on environment.

Portfolios like Law and Justice for Ravi Shankar Prasad, a trained advocate; Parliamentary Affairs for Ananth Kumar, known for his networking skills; Communications for Manoj Sinha, an engineer; and Youth and Sports for Vijay Goel, known for his out of the box ideas, show that the present dispensation has tried to match talent with work allocation.

If performance has its rewards, it’s best seen in Piyush Goyal’s case. Goyal now has four ministries under his belt – Power, Coal, Renewable Energy, and Mines (all independent charge as MoS).

While Modi’s Cabinet reshuffle is significant, the Cabinet expansion was made largely keeping the coming assembly elections, particularly in UP, in mind.

Induction of a big chunk of Dalit Ministers – Arjun Meghwal, Krishna Raj, Ajay Tamta, Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi and Ramdas Athawale as MoSs in the Union Cabinet – will create the impression that the BJP is the favourite destination of Dalit leaders. It remains to be seen if it helps the BJP in countering the BSP phenomenon in UP.

Anupriya Patel’s and Mahendra Pandey’s induction into the Cabinet, too, is aimed at the 2017 UP Assembly polls.

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