Modi 3.0: Record 72 Ministers Sworn In, Allies’ Share Up - Vibes Of India

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Modi 3.0: Record 72 Ministers Sworn In, Allies’ Share Up

| Updated: June 10, 2024 14:38

The portfolios are yet to come, but the first key takeaway from the new Council of Ministers is the political imperative of a coalition government. This is reflected in the record high of 72 being sworn in on Sunday in the third term of the BJP-led NDA government compared with 45 ministers in 2014 and 57 ministers in 2019.

With the support of allies critical to go past the majority mark in 2024, their representation in the Council of Ministers has more than doubled to 11 (of which five are Cabinet rank) compared with just five (four Cabinet) ministers in 2014 and four (three Cabinet) ministers in 2019.

After a clear majority in 2014, Modi said he believed the government has no business to be in business and the focus should be on minimum government, but maximum governance. The Council of Ministers had just 23 Cabinet ministers, 10 Ministers of State with Independent Charge and 12 Ministers of State. Now, in 2024, Modi has inducted 30 Cabinet ministers, five MoS (Independent) and as many as 37 MoS.

What could not be missed during on Sunday at the Rashtrapati Bhavan was a perceptible change in the pecking order in oath-taking. JP Nadda, currently the national President of the BJP, and former MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan preceded Nirmala Sitharaman. While Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister, Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari followed him to take oath as Cabinet Ministers ahead of Nadda.

A third takeaway from the new Cabinet is that of continuity, but change with addition of new faces — strong regional players — meant that the order of precedence in the party was altered. Modi’s key lieutenants remain; the change comes in the form of BJP leaders drawn in from states including Chouhan and Manohar Lal Khattar from Haryana. The top line up of the new government now has six former Chief Ministers, besides Modi himself: Rajnath Singh (Uttar Pradesh), Chouhan (four terms in Madhya Pradesh), Khattar (two terms in Haryana) Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam) Jitan Ram Majhi (Bihar) and H D Kumaraswamy (two terms in Karnataka).

The re-entry of Nadda into the Cabinet also means the BJP would have to elect a new party president. With Chouhan and Khattar, two probables also joining the government, the pool for the presidential probables has shrunk. Bhupender Yadav, Dharmendra Pradhan and Gajendra Shekhawat, those who could be considered to lead the party, are also in the Cabinet now. The choice of president will be crucial at a time when the party has seen a dip of 63 seats in this Lok Sabha election and has fallen 32 seats short of a Lok Sabha majority on its own.

Party sources said the issue came up during the discussions between the top leadership of the party and the RSS leaders in the last few days. With both the party and the RSS determined to improve communication, the Sangh is expected to influence the selection for the post. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, a leader who enjoys warm relations with Sangh leaders, could be one choice. Other candidates include Maharashtra leader Vinod Tawde, known for his organisational skills, OBC leader K Laxman and party veteran O P Mathur, sources said.

Taking into account the perceived anti-incumbency factor in some states especially in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP tally has come down from 62 to 33 and Maharashtra where its tally dropped from 23 to nine, Modi has inducted nine ministers from UP (it was 14 in the previous government) and four (10 earlier) from Maharashtra in the new government.

The swearing-in line up seems to have been arrived at based on the experience and stature of members rather than the numerical strength of the alliance partners. Kumaraswamy’s party JD(S) has just two members, but he was tenth in the list of 30 Cabinet ministers taking oath on Sunday. Ram Mohan Naidu of TDP and Rajiv Ranjan ‘Lalan’ Singh of JD(U) took oath later.

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