Rajat Sharma


akb full Within 24 hours of taking oath, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assigned portfolios to his 71 ministers, and most of them have already started taking charge of their ministries. Modi has opted for continuity. He has not made any big changes in the portfolios of most of his senior cabinet ministers. Amit Shah will continue to be Home Minister and Rajnath Singh will continue to be Defence Minister in Modi 3.0. Nityanand Rai and Bandi Sanjay Kumar have been made ministers of state for Home, while Sanjay Seth will work as MoS in Defence. Nirmala Sitharaman will continue with her Finance and Corporate Affairs portfolio, with Pankaj Choudhary as MoS in Finance and Harsh Malhotra as MoS in Corporate Affairs. S. Jaishankar will continue to handle External Affairs, with Kirtivardhan Singh and Pabitra Margherita as MoS. Nitin Gadkari, who has done monumental work in the last 10 years in building highways, will continue as Road Transport and Highways Minister, with Ajay Tamta and Harsh Malhotra working as MoS with him. Ashwini Vaishnaw, who introduced 51 Vande Bharat trains, will continue as Railway Minister with V. Somanna and Ravneet Singh Bittu as MoS. Vaishnaw will also look after Information and Broadcasting, with L. Murugan as MoS. Dharmendra Pradhan will continue as Education Minister with Sukanta Majumdar as MoS. Hardip Singh Puri will continue handling Petroleum ministry, with Kerala BJP MP Suresh Gopi as MoS. Piyush Goyal will continue as Commerce Minister with Jitin Prasad as MoS. Arjun Ram Meghwal will continue as Law Minister. Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is the new entrant, who has been assigned Agriculture and Rural Development ministries. Former Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar will be the new Housing and Urbain Affairs and Power Minister. BJP president J P Nadda will work as Health Minister with Anupriya Patel as MoS. Gajendra Shekhawat has been made Culture Minister, while Gujarat’s C R Patil will be the new Jal Shakti Minister. Jyotiraditya Scindia will handle Communication ministry, while Mansukh Mandaviya will look after Labour and Sports ministries. Chirag Paswan has been given charge of Food Processing ministry, while Giriraj Singh will be the Textile Minister. Former Karnataka CM H D Kumaraswamy will look after Heavy Industries and Steel ministries, former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi has been made MSME Minister, Pralhad Joshi has been made Food, Consumer Affairs and Renewable Energy Minister, and G Kishen Reddy has been given Coal and Mines ministries. JD-U leader Rajiv Ranjan (Lalan) Singh has been made Panchayati Raj, Fisheries, Dairy and Animal Husbandry Minister. Let’s have an overall view. Firstly, the line-up clearly shows continuity in the ministries of Defence, Home, Finance, Transport, External Affairs, Commerce, Education, Railways, Shipping, Petroleum and Environment. Secondly, heavyweight ministers have been given heavy responsibilities, examples J P Nadda, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Manohar Lal Khattar. Handling both Agriculture and Rural Development will be a tough job for Chouhan, while Khattar will have to handle Housing, Urban Affairs and Power ministries. Nadda, who performed well as BJP president, and who had earlier handled Health portfolio, will again look after Health and Family Welfare, along with Chemicals and Fertilisers. Jyotiraditya Scindia has been given charge of Communication ministry as well as DONER (Development of North Eastern Region). Ravneet Singh Bittu, who left Congress, joined BJP and lost the LS election in Punjab, has been made Railway MoS. This is a message to those who left Congress and joined BJP. Chirag Paswan will be happy handling Food Processing. His father late Ramvilas Paswan was Food and Civil Supplies Minister. Telugu Desam Party leader K. Ram Mohan Naidu has got Civil Aviation ministry. JD-U’s RCP Singh was Heavy Industries Minister in the last government. Now this ministry has gone to another alliance partner JD(S). Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel retains her Health ministry. Whenever alliance governments are formed, speculations and rumours spread fast. These rumours are often spread as ‘news’. There are some remarks on-record and some are off-record. For reporters, it is difficult to separate the grain from the chaff. One more dimension has been added to this. Since Day One, those opposing the NDA government are busy spreading rumours to create a rift among alliance partners. Some advised Chandrababu Naidu to demand Lok Sabha Speaker post, in order to have an upper hand inside the House. Till now, there is no confirmation has come on this. Rumours were spread that Eknath Shinde is unhappy because his party got only one portfolio. His son Shrikant Shinde had to issue a statement saying there is no resentment and the party has given unconditional support to Prime Minister Modi. Rumours were spread that the solitary BJP MP from Thrissur, Kerala, Malayalam actor Suresh Gopi was unwilling to stay as minister. Gopi had to issue a statement denying such rumours. I think, rumours and speculations will continue, because even during the election campaign, lots of baseless speculations were spread and people started believing them. Those spreading these baseless ‘news’ enjoy doing this. It will take a long time for the dust to settle. One must try to understand what Prime Minister Modi told his PMO bureaucrats and his ministers on Monday. His message was clear. Neither is he going to change the style of working of his government, nor will he change its tone and tenor. Those questioning how Modi will tackle the demands of his NDA alliance partners, since he lacks experience of running a coalition government, must remember this. When Modi first became PM in 2014, it was said that he had no previous experience about foreign policy. The whole world now realizes how Modi handled world leaders and governments with panache. India’s image shines bright, across the world. One of his colleagues said today, if Modi can make friendship and strike personal equations with both Donald Trump and Putin, then where’s the difficulty in doing the same with his alliance leaders? If he can strike a balance between USA and Russia, fighting a proxy war in Ukraine, make their leaders accept his views, then where’s the difficulty in striking a balance with alliance parties? One shall see, in the coming days, this balance and co-ordination, on a daily basis.

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