PM's dud: New cabinet, with same old governance deficit

Reshuffle was meant to show PM is in command, it ended up showing govt is running adrift

ajay

Ajay Singh | January 20, 2011




In the cabinet reshuffle, prime minister Manmohan Singh has applied formulae of economics in politics. He seems so convinced of the utilitarian theory of “greatest good for greatest number” that he accommodated and elevated leaders from Uttar Pradesh and Kerala to co-opt certain social groups. He felt that his move would put the Congress in a better position to forge a social coalition in Uttar Pradesh or Kerala in the coming assembly elections.

But politics is hardly a number game, a fact amply demonstrated by the Bihar elections. It is quite strange that the cabinet expansion and reshuffle is being used to put across messages to castes and communities.

For instance, Beni Prasad Verma, a new entrant in the Congress, is given the minister-of-state rank only to attract Kurmis who form a significant chunk of the OBC voters in UP. However, the entire exercise left Verma sulking. In fact, Verma was the cabinet minister in the H D Deve Gowda government way back in the 1990s. He felt his accommodation was nothing short of demotion. Obviously, the Congress’s effort to please a significant social group has come to a naught. Similarly, Sri Prakash Jaiswal’s elevation is aimed at winning over the trader community of Banias who were traditionally with the BJP but had switched sides to go with the BSP in the recent past. But the party believes in the notion that Jaiswal’s promotion would be a right signal to Banias.

Having taken care of the Bania-OBC combine, the reshuffle and expansion turned to address the concerns of the minorities by elevating Salman Khurshid to the cabinet rank. Perhaps the leadership chose to forget the fact that it was during Khurshid’s tenure as UP Congress chief that the Muslims slipped away from the party. The same holds true about Kerala where ministers were accommodated to send across a definite message to the constituency.

If anything, the reshuffle/expansion of the union cabinet arguably has seriously undermined the issue of governance. The prime minister is supposed to structure his cabinet to streamline the functioning of the government. Within less than two years of winning the Lok Sabha elections, selecting ministers purely for electoral reasons only reflects the drift in the government.

During the past six months, as the hue and cry over corruption was building up, the prime minister was sending across a message of effecting major changes in the reshuffle. He promised to tackle inefficiency and corruption head on. But none of these assertions are visible in the reshuffle.

He shifted Kamal Nath and Praful Patel to other ministries which are considered to be less lucrative than their previous assignments. If Vilasrao Deshmukh was not good in the heavy industry ministry, he was made minister for rural development, a ministry flushed with funds and encumbered with various social welfare programmes.

Though he probably wanted to send across a different message, the entire exercise has only demonstrated that prime minister Manmohan Singh has been presiding over a government which is running adrift.

Comments

 

Other News

Budget creates the ground – now it’s time for these steps

On February 1, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the Union Budget. As Dr. Rajiv Kumar, the Pahle India Foundation chairman and former NITI Aayog vice chairman, succinctly summed up, “Budget 2023 is a consolidation of the gains over the years, and a positive step towards sustained economic

Should India look for another capital?

The Indian Metropolis: Deconstructing India’s Urban Spaces By Feroze Varun Gandhi Rupa, 840 pages, Rs 1,500 Feroze Varun Gandhi, a Member of Parliament from the BJP, has been a published poet. He is also a policy expert – he had published &

Railways’ freight earnings up by 16%

On mission mode, Indian Railways` Freight loading for first ten months of this financial year 2022-23 has crossed last year’s loading and earnings for the same month. On cumulative basis from April 2022 to January 2023, freight loading of 1243.46 MT was achieved against last year&rsquo

BMC announces Rs 52,619.07 crore budget

Mumbai’s municipal commissioner and administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal on Saturday announced a Budget of Rs 52,619.07 crore for 2023-2024, an increase of 20.67% over a revised budget estimate of Rs 43607.10 crore for 2022-23. The overall budget size has doubled in five years. In 2017-18

Making sense of the ‘crisis of political representation’

Imprints of the Populist Time By Ranabir Samaddar Orient BlackSwan, 352 pages, Rs. 1105 The crisis of liberal democracy in the neoliberal world—marked by massive l

Budget: Highlights

Union minister of finance and corporate affairs Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2023-24 in Parliament on Wednesday. The highlights of the Budget are as follows: PART A     Per capita income has more than doubled to Rs 1.97 lakh in around

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter