Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to revamp his cabinet. The reports suggest that Sunday reshuffle will be a mega exercise unlike the earlier ones which only tinkered with the existing team. With the 2019 elections fast approaching and the crucial Assembly elections slated before it, this cabinet reshuffle assumes political significance.
Despite all the lofty talk of governance, cabinet formation anytime remains a political exercise and poll management on election eve.
Selection of cabinet is the prerogative of Prime Minister. True, but, it is only a Constitutional cliché. Often, Prime Minister is governed by political choices when it comes to selection of his ministerial colleagues. Within the given political parameters, Prime Minister can apply the principle of merit in determining the eligibility for inclusion into his cabinet.
Besides, social and regional considerations have to be taken cognisance of while forming the cabinet. Democracy obviously operates in a socio-political calculus.
In the coalition politics, though BJP enjoys formidable majority, it has to accommodate representatives of allies. With BJP on a mission to expand the frontiers of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) it leads, new allies are being co-opted. The Janata Dal (United) is already in, and the AIADMK internal operations are largely directed by the BJP. However, the AIADMK representative may or may not be inducted into the Modi cabinet now as the things in the Dravidian party are yet to crystallise.
Yet another dimension of the fresh exercise is to refurbish the party in the poll-bound states. More ministers may be inducted from these states to send a positive message to the electorate there. This requires adjustment in the existing council of ministers.
There are two kinds of poll-bound states. In some of them, the party is in power and has the highest representation in Parliament from these states. Modi has to select the leaders keeping in view the challenge of retaining this impressive tally in 2019 too. On the other hand, the BJP is trying hard to make its presence felt in what it calls the mission-7 states like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to win at least few seats this time to compensate for any possible losses in its strongholds in the North.
Meanwhile, the performance and non-performance factor has to be taken into account while making these changes. National security is a poll issue for BJP. Still defence has no full-time minister. The growing agrarian unrest is casting shadow on the government’s image.
The decelerating growth, the growing joblessness, the demonetisation fiasco, the GST burdens, etc., pose challenges to the Modi dispensation. The Prime Minister, therefore, needs an inclusive, balanced, efficient and combat-ready ministry.
However, Modi-Shah duo is known for springing surprises. The party is totally united behind Narendra Modi. He has a free hand to select his cabinet. Yes, the nerve-center of BJP organisation, especially the Sangh Pariwar, is always there to guide the leadership of saffron brigade. The new council of ministers will be the result of all this.