Ministry reshuffle: Narendra Modi moves out of Lutyens’ shadows

  • Vinod Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 07, 2016 07:22 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior BJP leader LK Advani in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI Photo)

A section of the BJP-RSS insiders has come to view recent changes in the ministerial council as evidence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi moving out of the shadows of Lutyens’ Delhi — where he had found himself an “outsider” while delivering his first I-Day address from the Red Fort.

The new inductions in the PM’s team bear his stamp and that of Amit Shah, the BJP’s foremost interface with its ideological fountainhead, the RSS.

A three-way dialogue among them is stated to have chiseled out the expansion and the attendant reshuffle.

The beefing up of the vernacular share in the regime was indeed dictated by ground realities in states headed for polls over the next two years: Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

But unlike 2014, talent scouting wasn’t outsourced or allowed to be influenced this time by what an RSS-confidant jocularly called “permanent representatives” of the clique forever in power in Delhi.

Read | Cabinet reshuffle: Portfolios of Modi’s ministers

“The first round of government formation was a tale of familiar faces. He has now in his team people about whom the Delhi elite have little knowledge,” he continued.

Broadly falling in that category of the “little known or relatively lesser noticed” are the newly-inducted Scheduled Caste (five) and Tribe (two) ministers of state.

These inductions are tied up as much with the return to limelight of two known faces pushed to oblivion in the first round of ministry making: former deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha SS Ahluwalia and former minister of state in Atal Bihar Vajpayee’s PMO, Vijay Goel, removed as BJP chief on the promise of a RS slot before the Delhi assembly polls. “They had then faced internal resistance, or call it elitist bias if you like, the PM ignored or triumphed this time around,” confided a senior BJP hand.

Read | With cabinet expansion, Modi performs a balancing act in poll-bound UP

It’s believed that Goel was done in by the faction supportive of Kiran Bedi, whose candidature as Delhi CM boomeranged badly on the party. Ahluwalia for his part was sidelined for being a Sushma Swaraj groupie.

The message therefore is unmistakable for those claiming proximity to the PM — that he’s his own man now on the turf he once found unfamiliar; those taking him for granted would do so at their own peril. Illustration: change of guard in ministries of HRD, information and broadcasting and parliamentary affairs headed by party biggies known to be having his ear.

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