The Narendra Modi Government is firmly in the saddles. After getting a massive mandate he has taken some new talents in his Council of Ministers, retrained some old faces while sending some previous ministerial colleagues for ‘rest’.
He has given an important place to his government’s former foreign secretary S Jayashankar by appointing him a cabinet Minister for External Affairs. Modi was impressed by the performance of Jayashankar as Foreign Secretary during the Doklam face off in Arunachal Pradesh. Jayashankar belongs to Tamil Nadu. He has been an officer of Indian Foreign Service. He is considered an expert on China vis a vis China diplomatic ties with India. He takes over from Sushma Swaraj. Believe me, Modi will continue to consult his former minister Sushma Swaraj on External Affairs matter during his second stint as Prime Minister.
One should not take it that a leader like Amit Shah would stop taking interest in the Party affairs of the BJP after becoming Home Minister of the country. He will continue to guide the next BJP President while discharging his duty as Minister for Home Affairs. It was because of Shah’s poll strategy that the BJP was able to make deep inroads into West Bengal, Odisha and North Eastern States where Party won a large number of Lok Sabha seats.
On the other side, Suresh Prabhu, Jayant Sinha, J P Nadda, Mahesh Sharma, Maneka Gandhi, and some others were taken in the new government which may surprise some observers. But who should be taken and who should not be taken is the prerogative of the Prime Minister. Now it is being speculated that J P Nadda may become the next President of the BJP. He is a man from the organization and is considered close to both Modi and Shah. He also enjoys the confidence of the Sangh.
So far the exclusion of Suresh Prabhu from the Council of Ministers is concerned it is likely that he was dropped because of some pressure from Shiv Sena. The exact reason for Suresh Prabhu not taken in the government is known only to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. At the same time, it must be said that Prabhu is a talented and dedicated man totally committed to his work.
Similarly, it appears that an able leader like Jayant Sinha was dropped because of his father Yashwant Sinha who has been critical of Narendra Modi and his government. Not only that, Sinha left the Party to join a small group of leaders hostile to the BJP. But Modi never joined issue with Yashwant Sinha rather he never took any notice of Sinha’s criticism of his government.
Jayant Sinha was again elected to Lok Sabha from Hazaribagh constituency with a huge margin of 4.78 lakh votes. In the previous government, he began his ministerial inning by becoming Minister of State for Finance and later he was given charge of Ministry of Civil Aviation where he did an excellent job.
Maneka Gandhi who won from Sultanpur is being considered for the post of Speaker of Lok Sabha though it is early to say who will succeed Sumitra Mahajan in the 17th Lok Sabha as Speaker.
Ramesh Pokharyal Nishank, former chief minister of Uttarakhand has finally got a berth in the Union Cabinet. This is for the first time that an MP from Uttarakhand has been appointed a Cabinet Minister after the creation of the new state. By inducting Nishank Modi has tried to balance caste and ‘factional politics’ of the state. He has been very active as MP and recently Nishank has emerged a powerful Bhrahmin leader in the North.
A powerful tribal leader and former chief minister of Jharkhand Arjun Munda also took the oath of office as Cabinet Minister in the Modi Government. Two Ministers of State from Jharkhand who were part of the previous Modi Government Sudharshan Bhagat and Jayant Sinha were dropped. Induction of Munda is also being seen as a balancing act in Jharkhand vis a vis chief minister Raghubar Das.
Sudarshan Bhagat was Minister of State for Tribal Welfare in the previous government. He was later shifted to Ministry of Rural Development, Agriculture and Social Justice. Bhagat is a humble leader always accessible to the public. Elected from Khunti Arjun Munda is the lone Minister from Jharkhand.
It is a representative Council of Ministers at the Centre in which one can see faces from all over the county. Twenty of twenty-nine States of the Union of India are represented in the new Ministry. For the sake of it, one can say that there is no Minister from Tamil Nadu. But S Jayashankar and Nirmala Sitharaman are from Tamil Nadu. In a way, Tamil Nadu has also got representation in the government. Likewise, Kerala has also got its representative in the Union Council of Ministers though indirectly. V. Muraleedharan is from Kerala and is a Minister though he is a Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra.
There was no doubt about continuation of Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani, Nirmala Sitharaman, Gen. (Retd) V K Singh and Santosh Gangwar in the new government.
Whereas Rajnath Singh ably and successfully handled Home Ministry in the previous government, Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur did a commendable job in taking a quantum jump in the country’s infrastructure particularly laying a network of National Highways and building Expressways in record time. Rajnath Singh has now been given the charge of Defence Ministry.
The man who was the architect of Mumbai-Pune highway built thousands of kilometers of the road during his five-year term besides broadening of highways. Gadkari is one man who does his work and sees to it that it is completed once he decides to do it. He is known for overcoming administrative and bureaucratic hurdles with tact and ease.
Induction of Nirmala Sitharaman in a new cabinet was certain. A former alumnus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Nirmalaji forcefully and effectively defended the government on the Congress’ charge on Rafale deal both in and outside Parliament. She is now Minister for Finance; a very important department. Smriti Irani’s hard work in Amethi where she defeated Rahul Gandhi was appreciated by the Central leadership of the Party.
Now that the Modi Government has assumed office for the second term, people will look at the government how it fulfills promises made. At the same time since it is the Modi Government, the country is assured of good work once again.
(The author is a Rajya Sabha Member)
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