he year 2014 had seen a big, fat swearing-in and a huge mandate. Modi and the BJP came to the power with a clear majority but the Cabinet was slim and trim and all those non-elected leaders were given ministries. Many elected leaders had to take a back seat just because they were not in good books of the powerhouses. BJP had a centralised power; only three are the decision makers. Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and Arun Jaitley are the party rulers and the rest have no voices but are assigned ministries and tasks remotely controlled by these power centers. Arun Jaitley’s electoral foray ended in defeat, but he is a part of BJP’s top troika along with Modi and Shah. This was the question that struck to my mind when the previous Lok Sabha election results came out. Arun Jaitley, the head of Finance and Smriti Irani, the head of Textiles (previously of Human Resource Development) in India play a vital role in shaping the future of BJP. Now, the question is if already people have rejected both of them in Lok Sabha elections, how these two are making laws for the people! Isn’t this wrong? In a political system, there are so many hidden facts than what people see at the surface — a party with majority mandate governs us. Now, a member of the majority party decides whom they want to elect as their leader, which is the Prime Minister. Then, the PM will advise the President who all Ministers he wants to be in his Cabinet. The PM and the Cabinet Ministers need not be the elected members of Lok Sabha. Now, the question remains that if we the people have not elected them, how can they make laws for us?
In India, we are limited in terms of involvement in politics. We cry when prices rise, get angry when corruption comes in news. I believe that because we are aware of what’s happening but cannot correct it. The only chance we have got to correct is in elections. However, in an actual sense, during election time, we just vote first by seeing what party we are voting for which is based on caste and religion. Then again, the voters took revenge in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Well! A non-elected member in the Cabinet is a debatable subject. However, if we look at BJP, we will see that they have literally imported leaders from another parties to strengthen their own. There are very few leaders that can be called as BJP’s own leaders who can be seen in active politics.
PM Modi was a stranger to the network in the Parliament, but Jaitley is not. His ability to make friends across the aisle and resolve parliamentary impasses has helped the stalemates and thus helped the government. He is an eminent lawyer and an educated person whereas the Modi government has many non-graduate ministers in the Cabinet. Smriti Irani was a spotlight in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet. While Modi holds a Masters in Political Science from Gujarat University, some of his ministers have only studied up to Class 10. Irani was accused of providing contradictory affidavits about her educational qualifications during different elections. In the affidavit for 2004 Lok Sabha elections, she stated her educational qualification as B.A. from Delhi University (School of Bhangra correspondence). However, while filing affidavits in her nomination papers for Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in 2011 and Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh in 2014, she said that her highest educational qualification was B.Com Part 1 from School of Open Learning at University of Delhi. However, the case was not be further summoned as made clear by a court decision. It was later clarified that she has done B.Com Part 1 from Delhi University (not completing the full course till Part 3) in the affidavit she filed for Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat in 2017 which stated “Bachelor of Commerce Part 1. Three-year degree course not completed”.
In the 2004 general elections for the 14th Lok Sabha, she contested unsuccessfully against Kapil Sibal from the Chandni Chowk constituency in Delhi. She was nominated as an executive member of the central committee of the BJP. In December 2004, Irani, blaming then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi for BJP’s electoral losses, threatened to fast unto death until he resigned. However, she later retracted this demand after BJP’s central leadership threatened to take action against her. In May 2009, Irani, while campaigning for Vijay Goel’s candidature in New Delhi, voiced her concerns about the safety of women in the capital. She advocated capital punishment for rapists as a deterrent. In August 2011, she was sworn in as a Member of Parliament from Gujarat to the Rajya Sabha. Irani again contested the 2014 general elections against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh and lost to Gandhi by 1,07,923 votes, a 12.32 per cent margin. On May 26, 2014, Prime Minister Modi appointed her as the Minister of Human Resource Development in his Cabinet. Her appointment was criticised by many people owing to her lack of formal higher education. In July 2016, with a Cabinet reshuffle, the Ministry of Human Resource Development was taken away from Irani and she was given the Ministry of Textiles instead. If you look at Modi’s 23 Cabinet Ministers and their educational qualifications, you will find that half of them are not even graduates. Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who was elected from Vizianagaram, is the only member from the Lok Sabha to make it to the Cabinet rank from residual Andhra Pradesh and his educational qualification is Matriculation. Animal-rights activist Maneka Gandhi made a comeback to the Union Cabinet as the only member of the Gandhi family in the BJP-led government with Educational qualification-ISC (The Indian School Certificate is an examination conducted by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations for Grade 12.).
On one hand, many non-elected leaders are ruling the party while on the other hand, the less qualified ministers are on the peak of their career and there are some ministers who are forced to quit the BJP because of its lost narrative. Savitri Bai Phule, a Member of Parliament from the Dalit community, became the latest in a line of departures from the BJP. Phule was elected from the Lok Sabha constituency of Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh. She told media that while the Prime Minister claims that even if Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar came and asked to end reservation, we will not end reservation — the party is insidiously trying to change the Indian Constitution. There are many regional leaders like her who made their exit from the party and there is a number of leaders who made an entry in the party quitting that same party which was on BJP’s hit list. The 2019 elections are approaching and voters are smart. BJP needs to focus on its narratives and address the core strength of their own leaders before giving the crucial position to those leaders who hopped on the party from other ideologies.