Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have been rather pragmatic in accommodating his detractors and allies in his Cabinet, but the allocation of portfolios Tuesday gave two clear indications — first, unlike his predecessor Manmohan Singh, he would keep a tight grip on crucial portfolios through his confidants and loyalists and second, the restructuring of ministries, which he initiated by clubbing 17 ministries into seven groups, is an exercise in progress.
The blueprint of his reforms in governance is likely to be elaborated in a Cabinet expansion shortly.
Drawing from the party’s rather limited resources, Modi put his own team of confidants and loyalists to look after crucial portfolios that had proved to be the undoing of the UPA government. So Jaitley got Finance; his aide Dharmendra Pradhan Petroleum & Natural Gas; Ravi Shankar Prasad Communications & Information Technology and Law; Prakash Javadekar Environment and Information & Broadcasting; Piyush Goyal Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy; Nirmala Sitharaman Commerce & Industry; and Smriti Irani HRD. These are the sectors likely to get maximum attention in the days ahead.
Having learnt lessons from the way former environment ministers Jairam Ramesh and Jayanthi Natarajan had rocked the UPA’s boat, Modi chose Javadekar ignoring obvious claims of former environment minister Maneka Gandhi. Having seen ministers trying to chart their own course at WTO talks, Modi placed the Commerce and Industry portfolio under his trusted lieutenant Sitharaman.
The only instance of deference to political imperatives was the allocation of Ministry of External Affairs to Sushma Swaraj who has not been on the same page with Modi politically. Only time will tell whether this will have any bearing on Modi’s foreign policy agenda.
With “minimum government, maximum governance” as his motto, Modi Tuesday restructured the ministries doing away with a dozen of them of the UPA regime.
But this could be an exercise in progress as creation of these “organic” ministries still seems incomplete. For example, Civil Aviation, which was expected to be clubbed with Transport, still remains a separate ministry.
Council of ministers
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions; Department of Atomic Energy Department of Space; All important policy issues and all other portfolios not allocated to any Minister.
External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs
Finance; Corporate Affairs; Defence
M Venkaiah Naidu
Urban Development; Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation; Parliamentary Affairs
Road Transport and Highways; Shipping
D V Sadananda Gowda Railways
Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
Rural Development; Panchayati Raj; Drinking Water and Sanitation
Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
Women and Child Development
Chemicals and Fertilizers
Ravi Shankar Prasad
Communications and IT; Law and Justice
Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati
Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
Harsimrat Kaur Badal
Food Processing Industries
Narendra Singh Tomar
Mines; Steel; Labour and Employment
Thaawar Chand Gehlot
Social Justice and Empowerment
Human Resource Development
Dr Harsh Vardhan
Health and Family Welfare.
On Friday, the first question to the AAP was related to its “anti-national activities”.