The CPM’s People’s Democracy, in an editorial, accuses the BJP of going back on the promise to have a small ministry. That the BJP-led government chose to have a cabinet expansion within six months of coming to power is an indication that more such expansions can’t be ruled out: “During the election campaign, Narendra Modi and the RSS/ BJP conducted a virulent campaign against the large size of the UPA 2 government. At its peak, the UPA 2 government had 79 members of the Union cabinet which reduced to 77 when they demitted office… All through the election campaign, the country and the people were repeatedly promised that the Modi government would be small in size but more efficient than any other government hitherto…”
The editorial also points out that this government has come close to the constitutional limit of 83 (10 per cent of the combined strength of both Houses of Parliament).
The editorial also talks about the “money power” in the cabinet, as well as the presence of a few members facing criminal cases: “Apart from belying its own promises to the people on the score of ‘good governance’, such domination of money power in the cabinet raises many a question mark over the Modi government’s repeated claims to unearth ‘every paise’ of the black money illegally stashed away in foreign banks… Thus, as far as the people are concerned, this Modi government is simultaneously pursuing the policies of economic reforms imposing greater burdens on the vast majority of our people and sharpening communal polarisation, heaping greater miseries on the vast majority of our people while betraying its promise of ‘minimum government-maximum governance’…”
Commenting on the cabinet expansion, the CPI’s New Age says that little attention has been paid to the “personal track record of the individuals picked… by the prime minister”. Some of them, the editorial reminds readers, have criminal cases pending against them. The editorial also discusses the BJP’s treatment of the Shiv Sena: “The treatment meted out to [the] Shiv Sena reflects the Modi-Shah gameplan to impose the BJP as the only dominant political entity that does not need allies…”
“In media, the common point is that Narendra Modi by inducting 21 persons has bid goodbye to his slogan of ‘minimum government but maximum governance’… What the media has not noted is the reality that the choice of personnel, not only for induction but also in the shuffling of portfolios, has a stamp of personal loyalty,” it adds.
“This is nothing new as far as Narendra Modi is concerned. After taking over as chief minister of Gujarat he started ‘cleansing’ the party of all possible opponents. The personal agenda is being imposed in not just constituting the government wings and institutions but it is more reflective in policy sphere,” the editorial claims.
The CPI (ML)’s ML Update talks of the death of over a dozen women in a sterilisation camp in Chhattisgarh, calling it an “indictment of the criminal complicity of the Chhattisgarh government in a corrupt and callous healthcare regime… They are also a wake-up call for the entire country, about the grievous violence done to women’s bodies by the ‘population control’ policies pushed by international funding agencies and the Indian state…” The editorial argues that the state government cannot “wash off its responsibility for the deaths of the poor women who were killed… Though India adopts no sterilisation targets nationally, states routinely adopt and push sterilisation targets… Target-driven and incentive-driven sterilisations lead to women being pressurised [sic] into having the surgeries, held in ‘camps’, thus privileging speed and volume of surgeries over safety and individual women’s informed decisions.”
The editorial says that the state government “must squarely accept responsibility for the target-driven and incentive-driven approach… The sterilisation massacre in Chhattisgarh has shocked the world — but the fact is that a massacre of the same scale happens routinely every month in India. If we are to stop this bloodshed of women, we need to review and reverse India’s approach to contraception.”