Age no bar for Cabinet 2016: PM junks much-touted age criterion
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi left out a string of BJP stalwarts from his cabinet after assuming power in 2014, government spin doctors said age was not on the side of leaders such as LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Yashwant Sinha.
Despite no formal announcement, BJP sources told the media that all of them were more than 75 years old and were unsuitable in a government focused on the youth.
“All those above 75 were declared brain dead on May 26, 2014,” a caustic Sinha said later.
But two years later, Modi appears to have junked the muchtouted age criterion, favouring political convenience and balancing caste and region considerations ahead of crucial state polls.
In the recent cabinet reshuffle, minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla, 76, and small and medium scale industries minister Kalraj Mishra, 75, were widely expected to be dropped but retained their seats.
There has been no official word on why they were retained. “There are some obvious reasons. There are someothersthatweevendon’tknow of,” a source who was part of the deliberation told HT. “The PM didn’t explain it to us nor did we ask him.”
But experts said Mishra was retained with an eye on polls in Uttar Pradesh next year. The 76-year-old is the BJP’s tallest leader among the Brahmins and dropping him would have hurt the party among the crucial community that is being wooed by rival Bahujan Samaj Party. “One ministerial berth is not as important as the perception that dropping Mishra might have had created. Our rivals could have had used this to their advantage,” a BJP functionary said.
Kalraj Mishra (left) and Najma Heptulla: