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Prime Minister Modi has expanded his cabinet inducting 21 new Ministers and reshuffling portfolios of several others, sticking on to his game plans of governance and politics.
The number of Ministers in the cabinet thus has gone up to 66 with the women representation in the Ministry, coming up to 8. The previous Manmohan Singh cabinet had 73 Ministers. Modi’s policy of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ was a part of his political calculations aimed at expanding the party’s footprints in the crucial states preparing for the looming Assembly elections. That includes his choice of Ministers as well as the changes in the leadership of key Ministries; people whom he thinks would benefit him and the country. He has tried to administer the same policy of ‘minimum government, maximum governance ‘at the national level that worked in his home state of Gujarat. Modi has described the model as 'more of development politics' and similar to a 'one day' cricket match. He expects an overall development including a boost in infrastructure sector and redefining Centre-State relations.
Modi has also tried to balance the caste equations in states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, which will go for polls in the coming years by getting more representations from its allies. BJP MP Dr. Mahesh Sharma from Brahmin community and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti belonging to Nishad community together with Ram Shankar Katheria and Mukhtar Abbaz Naqvi from the Dalit and Muslim communities respectively was chosen specifically by the PM keeping in mind the upcoming elections. Suresh Prabhu, who switched allegiance from Shiv Sena to BJP and Virender Singh who became the cabinet Minister after switching over to BJP are adroit political tactics of the PM and could be seen as warnings for the Shiv Sena and Akali Dal.
The cabinet changes indicate that Modi clearly controls the government and the party and the allies are left with no choice other than joining him in his objectives or move out of his way. The cabinet expansion is expected to make the Cabinet more representative socially, streamline work distribution, and balance power equations. But expanding the grip through political calculations like appeasing the allies and guaranteeing power for switching over party allegiance along with BJP’s increasing authoritarian ways would bring more harm than good.