CABINET .. PM Modi to reshuffle cabinet, Nirmala might be out of FinMin

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is contemplating a cabinet expansion to reinvigorate his governance process. Axe might fall on Nirmala Sitharaman and a name that’s taking the rounds for the post of finance minister is that of KV Kamath, who headed the BRICS Bank — formed by a consortium of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa a couple of years ago. His term there getting over.

Nirmala Sitharaman, who rose in BJP as a spokeswoman and then as Union Minister under the first Modi government handed various departments including the Defence before becoming Finance Minister. Not many thought she had the capacity to handle these two key departments. She had done post-graduation in economics from JNU, a university known more for the activism and less for academic quality, and worse so in recent years.

What other changes in portfolios would be effected are a matter of speculation. No word comes from the PM or circles close to him in any such attempts. Another name in circulation for the Finance Ministry is of Suresh Prabhu. He is seen by many as an ageing phenomenon, and his handling of various ministries in the Modi dispensations has not been impressive. He can perhaps make a further mess of the finance ministry.

A way open to Modi, which he would however not do, is to call in Dr Manmohan Singh, who has a fair understanding of the aspects relating to Indian economy. Singh is past the age bar of 75, though. He is 84. Several Congressmen are already in the BJP, like Jyotiraditya Scindia, who might now get a junior minister post. In politics, Scindia’s first aim is to protect the huge assets that he and his family have from government scrutiny.

Manmohan Singh is apolitical, and had proven himself to be a good finance minister under PV Narasimha Rao. However, he was equally a failure as Prime Minister, as he had allowed Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to do backseat driving, taking the nation to the depths of corruption. 

Singapore’s founder leader, Lee Kuan Yew, who died a few years ago, remained all his life as a Senior Minister, and this, all the while after he quit as PM many years ago. He served the role of an adviser to government. Many say his was the last word on many matters of governance almost until the time he died. Manmohan Singh can be drafted in in such a role, if Modi wants to get over his problem of lack of talents in the ministry.

Subramanian Swamy, for another, knows the subject; but his over-smartness is his undoing. Modi, least of all, trusts him. Swamy also has his hangovers as being a Brahmin, a cut above the rest; something that Modi is not comfortable with. Yashwant Sinha, the Bihari babu who quit Civil Service to join politics at the time of the JP Movement and later functioned as finance minister, is old hat, and not in the good books of Modi. Sinha had pushed his son into position of a junior Union minister in Modi government, yet wanted more from the party despite him crossing age 75 — the bar put by Modi for positions in party and government. 

Sinha had joined hands with loudmouth, Shatrughan Sinha, and Arun Shourie, another economist-turned journalist and then a Union minister, to run down Modi on occasions. All these men have age problem too. They are on the other side of 75. Shourie is 76, and he’s a law unto himself; which will not work with Modi.

Among Modi’s senior ministers, Nitin Gadkari is 63 and Amit Shah 55. Rajnath Singh is 68. Modi is 69. Whether he would serve as PM for one more term, if elected again, is a big question. 

Some ministers might be divested of their posts and brought back to the organisational level. The BJP as an organisational set-up is largely defunct. This was so even when Amit Shah led the party from the front. The party survives by the verbal acrobatics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the podium, and the BJP’s victory in the 2014 polls was also due to the big drama staged by Modi from campaign platforms. 

While Modi is not personally corrupt, many party leaders are involved in corrupt practices. Karnataka chief minister Yeddiyurappa has a tainted image. Some Union ministers are also known to be making money. IHN-NN


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