Prime Minister Narendra Modi will expand the Union council of ministers by inducting nine ministers, including four former bureaucrats, suggesting an admission of abysmal talent crunch in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ranks. The four are former Union home secretary R K Singh, former Mumbai Commissioner of Police Satyapal Singh, former diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri and retired IAS officer KJ Alphons Kannanthanam.
Government sources conceded that with 2019 Lok Sabha polls drawing near, the concern within the government was to ensure last-mile delivery of projects. The Modi government has received criticism from the Opposition for its failures to meet its promises, particularly on job growth.
The new ministers would be administered oath of office on Sunday morning, before the PM leaves for China to attend the BRICS Summit. Some of the incumbent ministers are likely to be promoted to Cabinet ranks or reallocated portfolios. One of them, a better performing minister in this government who is also close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, is expected to be given the defence portfolio.
Government sources said the attempt by the PM was to “reinforce his team with the power of ‘4P’ -- passion, proficiency, professional and political acumen -- to contribute to “progress”. They said the new ministers were highly qualified, some of them holding doctorates and professional degrees. It is seen as ironical, since this government, and the PM, have highlighted the fact that the government is run by those who do ‘hard work’, and not those educated at institutions like Harvard.
Official sources said the new ministers had been selected by the prime minister “with a clear mandate to deliver on his vision of a ‘New India A vision, which is built on the foundations of development and good governance, and with a focus on the 'Garib (poor), Shoshit (exploited), Peedit (victimised) and Vanchit (deprived)' segments of our society.”
Sources said the new ministers were going to be strategically placed in key ministries, especially focusing on last-mile delivery directly to the people. They said the new ministers came from varied walks of life, “bringing in their unique professional perspective and proficiency to the council. Many of them also bring rich administrative and governance experience,” they said.
Government sources said six ministers had quit, indicating that Uma Bharati continued to stay in the union Cabinet. Bharti had protested with the party leadership after she was asked to quit.
Sources said six ministers who had quit would now take up responsibilities in the party. The new inductees, sources said, came from diverse social and economic backgrounds, as well as from across the country -- stretching from Uttar Pradesh to Kerala and Karnataka; and Rajasthan to Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The portfolios are to be announced on Sunday. Another consideration for picking up the ministers has been the assembly polls in Karnataka.