Pravin Joshi: The cabinet reshuffle is extraordinary in many ways. Apart from increasing the number of ministerial berths, it has sent out a strong message for ministers. Modi has shown no mercy to his colleagues who had batted for him till thrown out from the cabinet. The prime minister has categorically cautioned his team members to keep away from media glare. Former law minister and a senior cabinet colleague, Ravi Shankar Prasad paid the price for being extra vocal and hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Similarly, former health minister Harshvardhan was penalised for promoting Baba Ramdev’s Coronil. His affinity with Baba turned his own medical fraternity against him. It was an embarrassment not only for a health minister to be on the wrong end of doctors but also for the government, which failed to keep doctors in high spirits after fighting an engaging war against Corona.
The exit of former I & B minister Prakash Javadekar was little surprising. Javadekar was a dedicated Modi man. But the bad press during the Covid-19 claimed his job. Not only international media but vernacular media like Dainik Bhaskar and Amar Ujaala went all out against the government’s Covid-19 management. Javadekar failed to neutralise the damage bad press brought for Modi in person and his government in general.
The former education minister Ramesh Pokharial Nishank was inducted in the cabinet from RSS quota. His ‘claim to fame’ had always been under suspicion due to his unscientific temperament and illogical reasoning. But the RSS umbrella gave him the cover till Modi decided to get rid of him. Now the education ministry is in the hands of Dharmendra Pradhan, who has emerged from the student politics. His transfer from Petroleum to education ministry is significant specially when the government is on its way to implement the new education policy. The performance of Pradhan in petroleum is considered at startling. He managed to justify the rise in petrol prices even when the price of crude was on down slide. Now he has a task cut out to drive the new education system.
With this reshuffle, Modi has made it clear for his cabinet colleagues that no one is indispensable. Even senior ministers will have to perform to be in the “Modi system”. This ‘tip to toe’ change will drive ministers to achieve their targets. With this reshuffle, the prime minister has shown that he can be ruthless when it comes to delivery. If BJP has to win upcoming state assembly elections a be the next general elections, the cabinet as a whole has to live up to public expectations. Modi knows that ignominy of Covid-19 can only be erased by raising the bar and perform.
(The writer is a social communication expert and political analyst)