On Tuesday, 5 July, 2016, the government of India led by PM Narendra Modi effected a massive expansion and reallocation of portfolios. The decision is believed to have been taken in consultation with party leader Amit Shah and other senior members. Apart from 17 BJP MPs, the new team of ministers includes 2 MPs from ally parties.
Changes and New Faces
Ministers Who Have Been Dropped
The five ministers dropped from the Cabinet are
- Nihal Chand Meghwal – Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers
- Ram Shankar Katheria – Minister of State HRD
- Sanwar Lal Jat – Minister of State for Water Resources
- Manuskhbhai D. Vasva – Minister of State for Tribal Affairs
- M.K. Kundariya – Minister of State for Agriculture
Know Your New Ministers
- SS Ahluwalia (West Bengal) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and Parliamentary Affairs
- Faggan Singh Kulaste (Madhya Pradesh) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare
- Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi (Karnataka) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Drinking Water & Sanitation
- Anil Madhav Dave (Gujarat) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge)
- PP Chaudhary (Rajasthan) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology
- Vijay Goel (Rajasthan) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge) and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation
- Rajen Gohain (Assam) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Railways
- Mansukh L Mandaviya (Gujarat) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, and Chemicals & Fertilizers
- Parshottam Rupala (Gujarat) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and Panchayati Raj
- Ajay Tamta (Uttarakhand) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Textiles
- MJ Akbar (Madhya Pradesh) – Sworn in as Minister of State for External Affairs
- Arjun Ram Meghwal (Rajasthan) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs
- Jasvantsinh Bhabhor (Gujarat) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Tribal Affairs
- CR Chaudhary (Rajasthan) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution
- Krishna Raj (Uttar Pradesh) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Women & Child Development
- Dr Subhash Ramrao Bhamre (Maharashtra) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Defence
- Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey (Uttar Pradesh) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Human Resource Development
- Anupriya Singh Patel (from Apna Dal) (Madhya Pradesh) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare
- Ramdas Athawale (from RPI) (Maharashtra) – Sworn in as Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment
Changes in Portfolio
The cabinet reshuffle effected on Tuesday was not only a strategic political move but was also a carefully considered decision in favor of good governance. At least this is the message that NaMo tried to send to his ministers by not only adding 19 ministers but also redistributing major portfolios. Here are some of the major changes made yesterday – Controversial minister Smriti Irani lost the prestigious Human Resource Development Ministry and was allocated Textiles instead. Minister of State for Environment Prakash Javadekar was elevated to Cabinet Minister rank and handed the HRD portfolio. Javadekar told reporters that he was hastily summoned from abroad for the reshuffle.
The Information & Broadcasting portfolio held by Jaitley was handed to Venkaiah Naidu. Naidu also holds the Urban Development and Housing portfolio but had to give up Parliamentary Affairs. Parliamentary Affairs went to HN Ananth Kumar. Ravishankar Prasad was named the new Law & Justice minister, a position previously held by D. V. Sadananda Gowda.
The Rural Development portfolio previously held by Birender Singh went to Narendra Singh Tomar. Communications went to Manoj Sinha from Prasad. Santosh Gangwar who previously held textiles is now the Minister of State for Finance.
Understanding the Expansion
With the reshuffle and expansion, the cabinet has now reached a strength of 78 ministers. This is the same number as Manmohan Singh’s cabinet. At first sight, the expansion of the cabinet may seem in contradiction with NaMo’s promise of “minimum government, maximum governance”. But a second look reveals a social diversity and balance with adequate representation from all communities and castes. According to Article 72 of the Indian Constitution, the government of India may hold a cabinet where the total number of Ministers shall not exceed 15 percent of the number of Lok Sabha MPs. By this calculation the current government can accommodate up to 82 ministers.
A Look at the Caste Equations
Both the timing and the design of the expansion and the reshuffle of the cabinet point to extensive thought and detailed planning on the part of the Prime Minister and other senior BJP members. Among the 19 new ministers added yesterday, five are Dalits, three belong to the Scheduled Tribes category, while two others belong to OBC communities. Apart from this, a well-known OBC non-Yadav leader, Keshav Prasad Maurya, has been appointed BJP state chief for Uttar Pradesh. The message is clear; BJP is ready to take on Mayawati and the BSP. The focus on non-Yadav Dalits and OBC is a challenge to BSP’s traditional Dalit vote bank. The caste equation is likely to play an important role in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections (April 2017) and Gujarat assembly elections (December 2017) and the induction of new members has been made with this in mind. The addition of two women to the cabinet – Anupriya Singh Patel and Krishna Raj – is also likely to bring balance.