Cabinet reshuffle nothing but an image makeover exercise by Modi ahead of assembly polls

The performance or competence of the ministers who have made an exit was not the parameter. It is a well-known fact that nothing moves in the government without Modi’s sanction

Cabinet reshuffle nothing but an image makeover exercise by Modi ahead of assembly polls

Arun Srivastava

Narendra Modi loyalists and sycophants have been raining accolades on him for Wednesday’s Union Cabinet rejig, describing him as a ‘visionary leader’. This does not come as a surprise as this has been the integral part of the inbuilt system which guides and shapes the functioning of the BJP and the Modi government. In reality, an insight into the reshuffle, especially the dropping of four prominent ministers, amounts to candid admission of failure to provide good governance by Narendra Modi himself.

These four high-profile ministers have been sacrificed to protect Modi’s growing unpopularity. To some extent, the credit for this realisation goes to BJP’s defeat in the West Bengal assembly election, which indicated that people have rejected his style of functioning.

Six Cabinet ministers, one Minister of State (Independent charge) and six other Ministers of State (MoS) have tendered their resignation. His trouble-shooter for West Bengal Babul Supriyo has also been dropped.

Prakash Javadekar had turned the Indian media subservient and it was due to his endeavours that the mainline media acquired the title of ‘Godi media’. It is widely known he had imposed an indirect censorship on the media. It is shocking, then, that the person who went to such lengths to boost the image of his boss has been sacked.

His removal, nevertheless, sends a loud message that everything was not right in the Modi government and Modi may be contemplating to act in an even more ruthless manner in the future. Already, Javadekar, before his departure, had begun to move in the direction to fetter the digital media and small time websites as they have emerged as popular dissenting voices.

Ravi Shankar Prasad had pledged his personal loyalty to Modi. He was practically acting as Modi’s personal staff. He was resorting to all types of foggy activities to keep Modi happy and refurbish his image. He is the person who in 2015 lauded Twitter for its efforts to promote and project the image of Modi. But in recent months, he has been working overtime to clamp down on it for giving space to voices of opposition.

Under Prasad, the IT ministry had been involved in a row with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook over the implementation of new rules notified by the Central government in February. His favourite target was Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. He made it a point to comment on every statement made by him. But eventually, these manoeuvrings did not help him preserve his position in the Cabinet.

Dr Harsh Vardhan was used as a scapegoat for Modi’s failure to handle the COVID crisis which claimed the lives of no less than 4 lakh Indians. It is a known fact Modi personally handled the crisis. It was Modi’s responsibility to galvanise the administrative machinery across the country. But instead of accepting his blunders, Modi chose to sack Harsh Vardhan.

Ramesh Pokhriyal held a two-year-long term as education minister, most of which was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. During his tenure, the National Education Policy was framed, which attracted considerable flak.

He was at odds with Modi when it came to the issue of conducting CBSE board exams this year. The minister had written an op-ed in favour of holding the board exams, while Modi later went on to announce that they were being cancelled.

It is a well known fact that nothing moves in the government without the sanction of Modi. In this backdrop, it would naïve to expect that a minister would act on his own without getting the green signal from him.

The sacking of these ministers also underlines the fact that the ministers cannot dare to present their views independently before Modi. They have been simply acting as spineless creatures. It is wrong to say that the ministers who have been dropped had been under the lens for their performance. In fact, they have been sacrificed to boost the image makeover exercise of Modi.

Santosh Gangwar as the labour minister had come under severe criticism for the handling of the migrant crisis last year. But the reality is again that it was Modi’s skewed policies that caused the crisis.

It is noteworthy that several incompetent and non-performing ministers have not been punished or dropped. The Congress has described it as bankruptcy of vision.

Modi has created a new Ministry of Cooperation. But it lacks clarity. How the Modi government plans to realise the vision of ‘Sahkar se Samriddhi’ (Prosperity through cooperatives) has not been spelt out.

It is purely a populist move and has been initiated to confuse the farmers and entice them on the pretext of strengthening the cooperative movement. The Ministry of Cooperation is the second ministry to be created since 2019 after the Modi government came to power for the second time. Earlier, the government had created the Jal Shakti ministry which failed to have any impact.

Since 2014, many recommendations have been made by bureaucratic panels to merge ministries linked to the same sector. But not much has happened on that front till now.

Modi’s entire exercise of dropping the ministers and inducting new faces has been undertaken with the aim of winning the UP assembly election. He inducted nearly 18 OBC ministers, most of them from UP. This purely aims at winning the trust of the backward castes who have been feeling alienated from BJP and Yogi. The Brahmins are already angry with the party and Yogi government. Modi has initiated a major move through the expansion to bolster the trust level amongst this section of the people. (IPA Service)

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Published: 08 Jul 2021, 6:56 PM