Modi’s Big Cabinet Rejig


Being given a job is no guarantee of retaining it.Perform or Perish.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hit the refresh button with his Cabinet expansion and reshuffle. With 19 new ministers inducted and five dropped, the council of ministers now comprises of 79, including the prime minister.Of 19 new faces, 3 ministers are from poll-bound UP, 3 Ministers from Gujarat and 10 from backward communities.

However it seems that the induction of the new faces is largely driven by electoral considerations as Prime Minister Narendar Modi has attempted to balance caste equations in the run up to the UP assembly polls and also to increase the dominance of the poll-bound states in the central government.

Smriti Irani, the controversial Human Resource Development Minister, has been divested her prestigious, high profile portfolio and spindled off to the textile ministries. Irani has been replaced by Prakash Javadekar. Javadekar is an affable politician who hardly gets into arguments or spats and knows the art of influencing people.

Javadekar’s principle qualification for the HRD job is that he has the ability to pursue the same goals that Smriti Irani had been tasked with- to push the saffronisation, commercialisation and centralisation of education without initiating or triggering the kind of resistances she did on campuses across the country.

Venkaiah Naidu will now be Minister for Information and Broadcasting, a portfolio held by Finance Minister Arun Jaitely as an additional charge. Mr. Naidu will no more hold the Parliamentary Affairs portfolio, which will now be held by Ananth Kumar. Venkaiah Naidu retains the Urban Development Ministry. By this shift the message seems to be clear: focus on finance without distraction.

The entire list of ministers of Narendra Modi’s cabinet reshuffles 2016 can be viewed here:


So, despite some ritual obeisance to political combustion, the broad focus of this reshuffling has been on performance. Just as well, for Modi has less than three years in which he has to deliver a performance which can be “felt” by the people.

The larger lesson of the rejig is that the Prime Minister is happy with the performance of his team-the flipside, of course, is that too many rejigs would have sent out the message that team Modi had not performed and would argue Modi is being complacent as, while there have been very good moves in some area- particularly in the social sector.

However, the big miss was in Agriculture, a sector that needs excellent leadership given its innumeral problems and boundations and poor past attempts at policy-making. India been an agriculture dependent country its half population should’nt be left on the mercy of the rain god.

Modi seems to be banking on getting new ideas in and thus infusing a new energy into his cabinet. These changes send out the signal that perfomance will be a criterion in assessing senior ministers.The plan is to use every minister’s services stratigically. The Prime Minister is betting that the new look team will do justice to his theme of gaon, garib aur vikas (village, poor, develpoment).


Arunita Dutta

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