Choosing a Cabinet Minister surely is the Prime Minister's prerogative and no one can question it. But when someone like Narendra Modi ejects a few from his team on the basis of non-performance and promotes at least four of his junior ministers to the Cabinet rank while opting for a couple of career bureaucrats to lead the nation, several questions do rise.
An aspirational India needs an accountable government and welcomes changes effected to the apex team on the basis of performance. But the very wording being used by a section of the BJP that this will be Modi’s team for 2019 challenge is a bit disturbing. If the rejig has been effected only with an eye on the electoral gains it is really worrisome. An unease has already set in over some of the moves the government has made in the last three years and the impact those have had on our economy.
Demonetisation’s positive impact vis a vis the claims made by the government has not yet been fully established. The slowing down of the economy and the fallen GDP are indicative of the factors that have gone wrong. The promised jobs are not forthcoming and the agrarian sector continues to face a crisis despite increased outputs and farm suicides have not subsided. The rise of identity politics as a counter to the campaigns of fringe elements and certain Hindutva forces has become alarming.
People seek a qualitative jump in every sphere of life but essentials like clean drinking water, healthcare and education are still distant dreams for millions. At this juncture, we are told that this Cabinet reshuffle is a turning point, an observable moment in the history and politics of the country. But, do the ministers have the freedom to function without fear or favour? Are these ministers just delivery boys of PM-Shah combine or do they really have their say in some matters at least? The BJP led NDA government is said to have replaced the policy paralysis of the previous Congress led UPA regime with policy dynamism and evolved a decisive and transparent system.
The BJP has a slogan: "Saath hai Vishwas hai ho raha Vikas hai", but the government’s failures on social, cultural and economic fronts are glaring. Modi-Shah combine can evolve their winning team at the Centre, but they should not ignore the non-performers in the states. "Team India does not mean only me and my Cabinet, but also the Chief Ministers'" the PM had once rightly said. If Suresh Prabhu had to go because of 500 deaths in accidents, then surely, Yogi Adiyanath too should have gone for the deaths of many more children in the hospitals.
The narrative has to change. Surgical strikes, OROP, GST and demonetisation are all OK, but the government should look beyond. When one reaches the turning point, one should pass the ridge with his honour intact, not descend rapidly on the other side. Focus of the government should be on good governance which practices inclusiveness in letter and spirit and not just forthcoming elections