Cabinet expansion: does it herald improvement in governance

Experts feel that the change in the cabinet has nothing to do with improving governance, but is a way of appeasing local sentiments

By Jitendra
Published: Wednesday 06 July 2016

The Narendra Modi government has showed concern for rural India in its first cabinet reshuffle since it came to power in 2014
Credit: Vikas Choudhary

The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government has showed concern for rural India in its first cabinet reshuffle and expansion since it came to power in 2014.

According to experts, the rejig may also indicate a sense of panic among the ruling regime over the current rural condition across India in view of two consecutive droughts. They feel that the change in the cabinet has nothing to do with improving governance, but is a way of appeasing local sentiments.

Focus on rural India

The reshuffle means a lot to rural India. Prime Minister Modi has inducted 19 new ministers, reshuffled the departments of three senior cabinet ministers and dropped five incumbent ones. Most of the new entrants are meant for the rural sector.

Ministers, who have been either dropped or handed over new charges, were mostly looking after agriculture, water resources, tribal welfare and fertilizers.

The government has replaced current Union rural development minister Chaudhary Birendra Singh with Narendra Singh Tomar, appointed a new dedicated minister for sanitation and drinking water, appointed three new ministers of state for agriculture, two new ministers for water resources and two new ministers for health.

Tomar will now look after rural development, Panchayati raj and drinking water and sanitation. He was earlier the steel and mines minister. Singh has been transferred to the steel ministry.

Tomar will be assisted by two new ministers of state—Purshottam Rupala for Panchayati raj and Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi for sanitation and drinking water.

Drought effect

Experts say that rural development matters more to the prime minister after India witnessed back-to-back droughts. According to sources, Singh was not showing pro-activeness regarding the implementation of different rural development schemes such as employment generation, sanitation and Panchayati raj.

In such a situation, Modi was looking for a new face to take up the reins of rural ministry. Like Singh, Tomar is also an agriculturalist.

To look after agriculture, three new ministers of state have been inducted in the ministry after one was transferred and another dropped.

The three new ministers of state are S S Ahluwalia, Parshottam Rupala and Sudarshan Bhagat.

In view of two consecutive droughts, the rural economy which mainly depends on agriculture has been severely affected.

Modi also wants to focus on this sector as he had promised to double farmers’ income in the next five years.

The government has dropped water resources minister Sanwar lal Jat and inducted two new ministries in the department.

Sanjeev Kumar Balyan and Vijay Goel have been appointed as ministers of state for the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

Modi has also appointed two new ministers of state for health—Faggan Singh Kulaste and Anupriya Patel.

A new tribal minister for state has been appointed in Jaswantsinh Sumanbhai Bhabhor. Incumbent minister Mansukhbhai D Vasava, who was dropped, said he did not know whether the reshuffle counted his performance or not.

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