The old arms of BJP had to quit from their portfolios and let the young get in with fresh faces and aura. Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar quit as Union Ministers, in big upsets ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet reshuffle. Ravi Shankar Prasad was Minister for Law and Electronics and IT and had lately been locked in a bitter feud with social media companies, mainly Twitter, over new IT rules.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and his deputy Ashwini Chaube both resigned. They are among a dozen ministers asked to go. Other Union Ministers who have resigned are: Thaawarchand Gehlot, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Babul Supriyo, Dhotre Sanjay Shamrao, Rattan Lal Kataria, Pratap Chandra Sarangi and Debasree Chaudhuri. Their resignation comes as the government battles criticism of its handling of the second wave of Covid in April-May, which ambushed India’s health infrastructure and left tens of thousands desperate for oxygen, hospital beds and vaccines. Images of bodies floating in the Ganga or washing up on its banks in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar played out in India and abroad. According to Labour Ministry sources, Mr Gangwar paid for his ministry’s abysmal handling of the migrants and jobs crisis in the early months of the pandemic, when the country was in lockdown.
The Health Ministry resignations are a big risk when the move could be seized by the opposition as a sort of political victory and vindication after their daily attacks on the government’s Covid handling. But sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted to send out a strong message that performance was key.
Harsh Vardhan, a doctor, enjoyed an authentic record in his past stints as health minister, both at the Centre and in Delhi before that. But the sheer scale of devastation in the second surge of the virus would prove to be an unprecedented challenge.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet got a facelift on Wednesday amid efforts to reinvigorate the administration that has been heavily criticised for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, soaring prices of essentials among a range of issues.
The names in the cabinet reshuffle include several new entrants as well as existing ministers who will be reassigned. Narayan Rane, Sarbananda Sonowal, Dr Virendra Kumar, Jyotiraditya M Scindia, Ramchandra Prasad Singh, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Pashupati Paras, Kiren Rijiju, Raj Kumar Singh, Hardeep Singh Puri, Mansukh Mandaviya, Bhupender Yadav, Parshottam Rupala, G. Kishan Reddy, Anurag Singh Thakur, Pankaj Choudhary, Anupriya Singh Patel, Dr Satya Pal Singh Baghel, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Shobha Karandlaje, Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma, Darshana Vikram Jardosh, Meenakshi Lekhi, Annapurna Devi, A. Narayanaswamy, Kaushal Kishore, Ajay Bhatt, B. L. Verma, Ajay Kumar, Chauhan Devusinh, Bhagwanth Khuba, Kapil Moreshwar Patil, Pratima Bhoumik, Dr Subhas Sarkar, Dr Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad, Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Bishweswar Tudu, Shantanu Thakur, Dr Munjapara Mahendrabhai, John Barla.
The cabinet reshuffle, the first in PM Modi’s second term, will see 43 ministers being sworn in. There will be 14 ministers below the age of 50 in the new cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It has a perfect balance of castes, regions and experience. The rainbow cabinet will have ministers who are seasoned administrators to anchor and guide their departments — 46 have experience in the Central government, four are former Chief Ministers and 18 are former ministers in state governments. The council of ministers will also have a mix of experienced professionals — with 13 lawyers, six doctors, five engineers, seven civil servants, seven with research degrees and three with degrees in business. There will be 11 women ministers from across nine states. The reshuffle took place after a detailed performance evaluation of the ministers by the Prime Minister. The new ministry also cuts across communities. There will be one Muslim, one Sikh, one Christian and two Buddhist ministers. Three of the cabinet ministers are religious minorities.
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