September 1, 2017
PM Modi’s third Cabinet reshuffle will have a bearing on states which are going to polls and those where elections have been held in the recent past.
Kumar Shakti Shekhar
Cabinet reshuffles and Assembly elections are correlated to a large extent. Which union minister is dropped and which leader is inducted in the union government depends also on the state elections – both upcoming and the ones already held.
This has been the practice more or less in every government, including the Congress-led UPA. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government is no different on this count.
The third Cabinet reshuffle being undertaken by PM Narendra Modi on Sunday morning has a bearing on Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh which are going to polls and those like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where elections have been held in the recent past.
A large number of ministers who have resigned or have offered to do so come from UP. The state went to polls earlier this year and the BJP had registered an impressive win. Kalraj Mishra, Uma Bharti and Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, who have offered to resign from the Modi ministry, come from this most populous state.
Mahendra Nath Pandey is learnt to have already resigned following his anointment as the president of BJP’s UP unit. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Kalraj Mishra is likely to be made the governor of some state, most likely Maharashtra.
Bihar went to polls in the last quarter of 2015. Minister of State (independent charge) for Skill Development Rajiv Pratap Rudy was the first minister to quit the Modi government. He put in his papers on Thursday, three days before the expected Cabinet reshuffle. Besides him, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh is learnt to have offered to quit.
With Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) joining the NDA, PM Narendra Modi is all set to include a couple of ministers of the new ally in his team. RCP Sinha is likely to get a Cabinet berth while Santosh Kushwaha would be made a minister of state.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla holds the dual charge of also being the president of BJP’s Punjab unit. Going against the BJP’s norm of ‘one man, one post’, the party leadership had allowed him to retain both the posts. However, with the Punjab elections getting over earlier this year, it may be time for Sampla to relinquish his ministerial berth.
The Gujarat elections are slated for later months this year. It would be a prestige contest for the BJP as Gujarat is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Moreover, the state goes to polls for the first time after the two became PM and BJP chief respectively in 2014.
In view of Hardik Patel-led Patidar-Patel quota stir, the party is considering the inclusion of a couple of MPs of OBC category in the Modi ministry. This is aimed at wooing back the Patels and Patidars who would have jumped on to the Hardik Patel bandwagon.
Assembly elections are due also in Himachal Pradesh later this year. The Cabinet reshuffle may see the exit of Health Minister JP Nadda, who belongs to the state. He is likely to be projected as the chief ministerial candidate of BJP’s state unit. In fact, he had been inducted into the Union government to allow him to gain experience in administration. As a counter-balance, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal may be brought to the Centre.
Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh would be held towards the end of 2018. The Cabinet reshuffle would likely be undertaken in view of the state polls. Minister of State for Health Faggan Singh Kulaste is learnt to have offered to resign. Sources said he is being dropped from the Modi ministry on the basis of his performance review.
Kulaste is likely to be replaced by Lok Sabha MP Prahlad Singh Patel, who belongs to the OBC category. A couple of more ministers may be inducted at the Centre – one of them would be to fill the vacancy created out of former environment minister Anil Dave’s death.
Similarly, the Cabinet reshuffle may witness increased representation from other states such as Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka which go to polls in 2018.