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A not-so-smooth Cabinet reshuffle: Rejig hides more than it reveals

The old guard in the BJP should not consider itself secure

Aditi Phadnis 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Setting caste and religious factors aside, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reshuffle of the council of is a work in progress. And in this phase, it appears to have been prompted by the motive to sideline traditional heavyweights in the party, while inducting those who will be personally loyal to the PM.

It is a move that hides more than it reveals — that Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati’s load was lightened although the signals were that she would be dropped altogether; the ‘intransigence’ of Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, who held many meetings to ensure he was not moved from his perch; that three top held a meeting at Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s residence; and the petitioning by Foreign Minister — all suggest that the reshuffle was not the smooth affair it was anticipated to be and a few just dug their heels in and refused to go.

The elevation of is being seen by the party as a double promotion — not just to Cabinet rank but also to the CCS, in which she will sit at the high table with leaders like This is the surest signal that the old guard in the should not consider itself secure.

Sources close to alliance partners like Nitish Kumar and suggest that neither is happy about the fact that it was limited to a BJP-only affair and that they were not even sounded out. The in Bihar, especially Lalu Prasad, has made capital of the fact that although Kumar crossed over to the BJP, the has snubbed him. The has made its opinion on the matter quite clear.

It is possible that weighed down by the BJP’s internal contradictions, the PM opted to limit the fallout, postponing placating the alliance partners.

In caste terms too, the reshuffle is largely limited to upper — Brahmin, Bhumihar, Rajput — with the inclusion of just one Dalit (Virendra Kumar, a Khatik from Madhya Pradesh). In appointing retired bureaucrats as ministers with independent charge, the PM might have wanted to signal that performance would be the government’s most important priority in the days to come. But this has also signalled that performance will be the criterion for judging continuance in the

First Published: Mon, September 04 2017. 09:21 IST