Penalty for Covid mess in reshuffle

Harsh Vardhan has been penalized for Covid chaos and Ravi Shankar Prasad for Twitter mess, Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal have been spared despite economic mismanagement

Ramdev Bakshi |

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (PIB)

A desire to appear inclusive and competent seems to have been the driving force in the reset and expansion of the council of ministers. So, there are 12 ministers from scheduled castes, eight from scheduled tribes, 27 from other backward classes or OBCs, and five from the minorities. Seven women ministers have been appointed, the total number going up to 11. The new council may hearten the votaries of diversity.

For while the reshuffle has been major, there is little in it to suggest that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unhappy about the manner in which key economic ministries are run, despite the grim state of the economy and the grimness preceding the corona crisis. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar removed, but Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal have not been penalized.

On the contrary, Anurag Thakur, junior minister in the Finance Minister, has been given the cabinet rank and I&B and Sports portfolios. Mismanagement of the economy is without consequences.

It is also a young council of ministers, the average age coming down to 58 from 61. As many as 14 ministers are below 50 years. Prime Minister Modi has also tried to blunt the criticism hurled at his government over the lack of talent by appointing a lot of professionals—13 lawyers, six doctors, five engineers, and seven former officials.

More importantly, none of the 36 ministers who took oath today was a sadhu or pontiff.

PM Modi himself will be in-charge of the Ministry of Science, the Minister of State (PMO) being his deputy. Home Minister Amit Shah has been entrusted with the charge of the newly-constituted Ministry of Cooperation.

Technocrat and former bureaucrat Ashwini Vaishnaw got two major portfolios, Railways and IT & Communication.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, who quit the Congress to join the BJP, got the civil aviation portfolio.

Ministries of Health and Chemical & Fertilisers have been joined, put under Mansukh Mandaviya.

Purshottam Rupala, who comes from Gujarat, gets dairies and fisheries.

Smriti Irani got the Women’s Development Welfare Ministry.

Dharmendra Pradhan gets the charge of the combined Ministries of Education and Skill Development.

Anurag Thakur is the new I&B Minister with the cabinet rank. He will also be in-charge of Sports and Youth affairs.

Giriraj Raj Singh got the Rural Development Ministry, Pashupati Paras the Food Processing Ministry, Bhupendra Yadav Labour and Environment.

Piyush Goyal retains Commerce. He also got Consumer and Food Welfare, and Textiles Ministries.

Kiren Rijiju got the Law Ministry.

Meenakshi Lekhi is now Minister of State in the External Affairs and Culture Ministries.

Kishan Reddy has got the consolidated charge of the Culture Ministry, the Northeast and Tourism.

Nisith Pramanik is new MOS n the Ministries of Home Affairs and Youth Affairs and Sports.

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