The jumbo recast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet appears to have been based as much on damage control as a look to the future in states where the BJP hopes to expand. The exits have made a bigger impact than the entries and the one that has had the most shock value was that of Ravi Shankar Prasad, one of the most visible faces of the government.
The public perception here is that Prasad was found lacking when it came to his own domain. The huge row with social media giants like Twitter over the new digital rules has drawn much attention from the international community and gave the government much negative publicity.
Sources said it was Prasad’s inability to resolve the rows and bring the tech firms on the same page with the government that went against him.
Meant to be a high impact, flagship programme of the government, Bharatnet was struggling and had missed the June 2021 deadline.
Prasad’s functioning as the law minister was also in question, sources said.
Of the new entrants, the new health minister Mansukh Mandaviya is set to be the one under most scrutiny, given the impending third wave of Covid. While the removal of Dr Harshvardhan is clearly meant to offset the criticism over the government’s handling of the Covid crisis and the tardy pace of vaccination, the measures taken over the coming days will decide how the battle against the virus plays out.
The new minister, however, is already being trolled over his qualifications for the job, especially in the backdrop of the government’s claims of inducting highly educated, trained professionals in the ministry. Mr Mandaviya had studied veterinary science at the Gujarat Agricultural University.
Two other inductions were expected to bring political heft to the ministry: Kaushal Kishore from Uttar Pradesh where assembly elections are due next year, and Nitish Pramanik from Bengal, a state the BJP hopes to win in the future.
Kishore represents the Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh and the elevation is seen as an attempt to provide regional representation in cabinet.
Sources said Kishore was publicly assured by Union Home Minister Amit Shah that he will be made a minister, and that promise has now been kept.
With inputs from NDTV