Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday dropped two more ministers from his council, promoted one and changed the portfolio of a junior minister as part the changes he made to his team’s composition last week.
Minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla, who escaped the axe in the July 5 reshuffle as she was abroad and could not send her resignation, was removed. Her deputy, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, was given independent charge of the ministry.
“I will always be available for any responsibility given to me in future. I have resigned from my post due to personal reasons,” she said.
Age was not on her side as she turned 76 in April. Though age has never been an official criterion, Modi has repeatedly stressed on young blood in his government. Sources said she could get a gubernatorial assignment now.
Her ouster gave a leg-up to Naqvi, a leader from poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. The 58-year-old politician from Rampur, who got elected to the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand in the recent polls, is a minister of state for parliamentary affairs too.
The minister of state for heavy industries and public enterprise, GM Siddeshwara, lost his job too.
The 64-year-old MP for Davangere in Karnataka was on the list of six ministers who were to be dropped. But he had requested the party to postpone his exit as his birthday is on July 5 and his supporters had hosted a party in his constituency.
He sent his resignation to the Prime Minister later.
Kalraj Mishra, the minister for micro, small and medium enterprises who turned 75 on July 1 was retained in view of next year’s Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Mishra is one of the tallest Brahmin leaders of the BJP in the country’s most populous state that the party is desperately trying to win.
Singer-politician Babul Supriyo, the BJP’s West Bengal MP and junior minister in the urban development ministry, will replace Siddeshwara.
The Karnataka leader’s stint in the ministry was lacklustre and his performance failed to impress Modi, sources said.
Siddeshwara belongs to the influential Lingayat community in Karnataka, but the party could afford to lose him as former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa is back as Karnataka BJP chief. Yeddyurappa is a Lingayat too.
Supriyo’s shunt to heavy industries cannot be interpreted as a good appraisal. His performance in the urban development ministry has been unimpressive and senior minister M Venkaiah Naidu was said to be unhappy with him.
Five ministers were dropped in Prime Minister Modi’s chop and churn last Tuesday when he expanded his council of ministers to 78, inducting 19 new faces. The biggest casualty was Smriti Irani, shifted from human resource development (HRD) to the unglamorous textiles ministry.