Minimum government, maximum governance is an ideal but not always easy to implement. So, it comes as no surprise that the government has had to bring in 21 more ministers, taking the strength of the Cabinet to 65. It has been a clever exercise in blending caste, region, youth and talent if the ministers chosen are any indication.
But the day was marred by the fact that the Shiv Sena boycotted the ceremony, recalled its leader Anil Desai, who was en route to the swearing-in even as its former leader Suresh Prabhu has been given a Cabinet berth.
Mr Prabhu will be elected to the Rajya Sabha on a BJP ticket. Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar was a certainty as also JP Nadda. The TDP has been given a portfolio, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been brought in as also RJD baiter Ram Kripal Yadav.
The induction of Rajyavardhan Rathore is the BJP’s way of tipping its hat to the youth. Babul Supriyo being brought in is a signal to Mamata Banerjee that the BJP wants to strengthen its position in West Bengal. The inclusion of Vijay Sampla, a Dalit from Punjab, suggests that at some point of time, the BJP may want to go it alone in the state. Jayant Sinha was another predictable inclusion as also Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
In many ways, the expansion is reminiscent of the old-style politics, when berths were given either with an eye to state elections or keeping caste and regional sensitivities in mind. The difference here seems to be that Narendra Modi is a hard taskmaster and no one can take his or her berth for granted.
The electoral math for the future has been worked out by the party president, Amit Shah. The expansion was also crucial given that some ministers had been burdened with more than one demanding portfolio.
The fact that the BJP has not given in to the Sena’s demands shows that it is quite willing to stare its former ally down.
The go-it-alone strategy seems to have worked for the BJP in the assembly elections and this seems to be the preferred option for both the prime minister and Mr Shah. What the BJP has lacked is experienced people in vital portfolios and Mr Modi seems to have cast his net wide to bring in talent.
Now that the Cabinet has the required numbers, the next task will be to show results. With a majority, his choice of ministers and a clear agenda for the future, Mr Modi is on a very strong wicket, the row with the Sena notwithstanding.