Narendra Modi is going to expand his cabinet tomorrow. The names that will figure there tomorrow in the list of the oath-takers are almost certain. Though the official list is yet to come out, the probable names have become more or less clear. The Rashtrapati Bhavan has been informed and as per the reports, the ceremony will begin at 11 AM.
Why we are buying the names because of the leads that we are getting when we look at the list.
The probable names are: SS Ahluwalia, PP Chaudhary, Anupriya Patel, Vijay Goeal, MJ Akbar, Anil Madhav Dave, Mansukhbhai Mandavia, Mahendranath Pandey, Purshottam Rupala, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Krishna Raj, Jaswantsinh Bhabhor, Ramdas Athawale, Subhash Bhamre, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Ajay Tamta, Ramesh Jigajinagi.
A look at them tells they are a mix of possibilities – to tame the considerations of experience – to exploit the permutations and combinations of caste – and to send a message – that no one is secure and the game is going to be performance based.
Though the last prospect looks watered down here – because many ministers whose names were doing rounds as the possible drop-outs are not going to figure there tomorrow – as much we know – so far.
In a country like India where elections are held every year – and where elections are basically contested on factors like caste, community and regional affiliations – performance cannot be the sole criteria for judging a minister for a particular portfolio.
2017 will see five assembly polls – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur. Of these five, the BJP will try all to win Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Though the BJP is now the biggest political party in terms of its governments in the state assemblies, it is true that no party can claim to run the show in the country unless it has an emphatic presence in Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state that sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha (and the maximum number of Rajya Sabha MPs) – the state from where the BJP began its journey to take the political centrestage – but a state where the party has been reduced to the 3rd spot. Though the party has wasted the last two years after the absolute win of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the state, winning 73 out of 80 seats (with 2 seats of its ally Apna Dal), its strategists still think that it can win the state once again.
So, Uttar Pradesh will have to get a proportion in the cabinet expansion accordingly. Uttarakhand can be an upcoming battle royale after the BJP’s failed attempt to impose the President’s Rule in the state. Now winning the state has become a prestige issue.
The major transitions, transfers and omissions will be based on the equations the upcoming assembly elections in these two states – because Manipur is not that important from an electoral point of view – because Punjab is a lost chance – and because Goa, too, is going to be a negative prospects zone with rising anti-incumbency against the BJP government there.
Representation from states – representation from castes – and representation from experience sub-sets would depend on that.