Compact Team for March to Good Times
The council of ministers bears Modi’s stamp
The new council of ministers has the stamp of authority of India’s 15th Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. It is compact and businesslike, and firmly excludes token representation except in the case of the BJP’s allies in the ruling coalition, the National Democratic Alliance. Obeisance to seniority has been given a miss. Muslim representation has been achieved through a political lightweight from the past. States that have contributed massively to the BJP’s victory in the elections have more ministers (Rajasthan is a surprising omission from the Cabinet). Some other large states, such as Bengal and Kerala, go altogether unrepresented. Modi believes political representation is of the collective, not of any particular section. Nor has he allowed any rule to dictate his choice of ministers: those defeated in the elections have made it, for example, Arun Jaitley and Smriti Irani, as have those who are not yet members of either House, like Nirmala Sitharaman and Prakash Javadekar.
The country gets a new clutch of ministers, some who have proved their mettle, serving in the A B Vajpayee government. Arun Jaitley brings to finance an agile mind and willingness to take inputs from experts. Sushma Swaraj is an able leader capable of running any ministry with competence. Rajnath Singh takes charge of Home, a ministry that reflects his seniority in the party. Nitin Gadkari had excelled as a minister in the Maharashtra government. But, under Modi’s leadership, the will to achieve is expected to be taken as a matter of course, rather than a matter of individual flair.
The shrinking of the council of ministers from the UPA’s 71 to 45 has been achieved by clubbing some ministries together and by giving some ministers charge of multiple ministries. Some pruning of ministries is indeed desirable, as also clubbing of departments that have synergy under one minister. But for this to translate into maximum governance, effective coordination has to be instituted. We hope this will happen and that the new government will give the economy new dynamism.