By Arun Srivastava
Narendra Modi loyalists and sycophants have been raining accolades on him for Wednesday’s union cabinet rejig and describing him as the most visionary leaders for his move to show the door to his ministerial colleagues, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Javadekar and Ramesh Pokhriyal.
The eulogy of Modi has not come as a surprise as this has been the integral part of the inbuilt system which guides and shapes the functioning of the BJP and also the Modi government. In fact an insight into the reshuffle, especially dropping of the four prominent ministers is nothing but the the candid admission of his failure in providing a good governance by Narendra Modi himself.
These four high profile minister have been sacrificed to protect the drooping and limping image of Modi. Once again the credit for his realisation goes to his defeat in the West Bengal’s assembly election. Mamata Banerjee had made him understand that he has turned a worthless baggage and the people have rejected his style of functioning. Six Cabinet ministers, one Minister of State (Independent charge) and six other Ministers of State (MoS) have tendered their resignation. His trouble shooter for Bengal Babool Supriyo has also been dropped.
Javadekar has turned the Indian media subservient and it is due to his endeavours that the mainline media has acquired the dirty name of “Godi” (lap) media. It is widely known he had imposed an indirect censorship on the media. He along with his colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad had been hatching the design to completely gag the media. To accomplish the mission he had also decided to pit his own moles inside the media houses. Indeed it is shocking that the person who staked his public image and prestige boost the image of his boss was found to be unfit for the task and eventually had to be sacked.
His removal nevertheless sends a strong and loud message that everything was not right in the Modi government and Modi contemplates to strike in a more ruthless manner in future. Already Javadekar before his departure had moved in the direction to fetter the digital media and small time web sites as they have emerged as the popular dissenting voices. People are relying on these small websites than the big media houses which are of late being openly derided for working as the PR agencies for Modi. The government is desperate to goad them.
Ravi Shankar has in fact pledged his personal loyalty to Modi. He has been practically performing the task of personal staff of Modi. In his pursuit to champion the interest of his boss he has been resorting to all types of foggy activities to keep Modi happy and refurbish his image. He is the person who in 2015 lauded twitter for its efforts to promote and project the image of Modi. But in recent months he has been working overtime to screw it and even force it to shut its shop in India for giving space to the opposition feelings and voices.
He has even introduced new IT Act to gag the media and the IT sector. He has even been resorting to arm twisting measures to silence the critics of Modi. His most favour target has been Rahul Gandhi. He has made it a point to comment on Rahul’s every statement. But unfortunately these manoeuvrings did not help him preserve his position in the cabinet. Under Prasad, the IT ministry had been involved in a row with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook over the implementation of new rules notified by the central government in February.
The worst victim of Modi’s failure to handle corona crisis and inability to evolve a concrete mechanism to fight pandemic which claimed not less than 4 lakh of Indians and his incapability to provide a good governance has been the health minister Dr Harsha Vardhan. Modi has used Vardhan as a scapegoat to butcher him for protecting his own image. It is a known fact Modi personally handled the crisis and was responsible for non availability of the oxygen and vaccination to the people. But ironically Vardhan had to bear the blame.
Really sad enough Harsh Vardhan had to draw flak for the inept handling of the Covid situation during the second wave. True enough none else but Modi should have been blamed for the failure of the government for failing to counter the second wave. But the axe fell on Vardhan. It was the responsibility of Modi to galvanise the administrative machinery across the country and ensure supply of the medicine. But instead of accepting his mistake, Modi sacked Vardhan.
Pokhriyal held a two-year-long term as education minister, most of which was marred by the Covid-19 pandemic. His biggest achievement has been framing of the National Education Policy and initiation of its implementation which was in the works from early 2015. After the release of the policy in 2020, the implementation began with selected schemes being rolled out phase-wise.
His major drawback was he could not liberate the JNU and other universities of the secular and leftist students. Though he interacted with students through social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, it was not liked by the close lieutenants of Modi. They desired that he should forcefully implement the RSS education policies in the universities. They disliked his direct involvement with students. He was at odds with Modi when it came to the issue of conducting CBSE board exams this year. The minister had written an op-ed in favour of holding the board exams, though PM Modi later announced that they were being cancelled.
It is a known fact nothing moves without the sanction of Modi. Obviously in this backdrop it would naïve to expect that a minister would act on his own without getting the green signal from him.
The sacking of these ministers also underlines the fact that the ministers cannot dare to present their views independently before Modi. They have been simply acting as spineless creatures. It is wrong to say that the ministers who have been dropped had been under the lens for their performance. In fact they have been sacrificed to boost the image makeover exercise of Modi.
Gangwar as the labour minister had come under severe criticism for the handling of the migrant crisis last year. But the world knows that the migrant labourers had to suffer due to the skewed and wrong policy and approach of Modi. It is still fresh in the memory of the common Indian how Modi did not provide sufficient time to the poor labourers to to shift to safe places. Modi and his Rail minister PiyushGoyal initially refused to arrange trains for taking them to their natives states. The poor hungry fleeing labourers were even charged fares. The wrong handling of the crisis by Modi resulted in death of nearly 800 labourers enroute to their destinations. Unfortunately to protect Modi’s image the labour ministry had then come under fire for failing to address the woes of the migrant workers.
It is significant to watch that incompetent and non-performing ministers have not been punished or dropped. The Congress has described it as bankruptcy of vision and creation of futuristic leadership. Modi has created a new Ministry of Cooperation. But it lacks clarity. How the Modi government will realise the vision of ‘Sahkar se Samriddhi’ (Prosperity through cooperatives) has not been spelt out.
This is purely a populist move and has been initiated to confuse the farmers. It is a move to entice the farmers on the plea of strengthening the cooperative movement. The Ministry of Cooperation is the second ministry to be created since 2019, after the Modi government came to power for the second time. Earlier the government had created the Jal Shakti ministry but failed to have any impact. Since 2014, many recommendations have been made by the bureaucratic panels to merge ministries linked to the same sector. But not much has happened on that front till now.
Modi’s entire exercise of dropping the ministers and inducting new faces has been undertaken as the prerequisite for winning the UP assembly election. He inducted nearly 18 OBC ministers, most of them from UP. This purely aims at winning the trust of the backward castes who have been feeling alienated from BJP and Yogi. The Brahmins are already angry with the party and Yogi government. Modi has initiated a major move through expansion to bolster the trust level amongst this section of the people. (IPA Service)