PM Modi wants to revamp cabinet, but can’t find the people

New Delhi: After a drubbing in a state poll in November, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to overhaul his cabinet to weed out underperformers and improve his government’s image. Problem is, several sources said, he can’t find the right replacements.

As New Delhi buzzes with speculation about changes in several ministries, senior members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a close aide to Modi said some changes could come early next year but the talent pool was too shallow to engineer a major revamp.


Pressure is mounting on Modi to revive his party’s fortunes. Nearly two years after he swept to power on a promise of jobs and growth, the shine is coming off – reforms to revive investment have withered and the economy is stuttering. Rural distress has grown after two successive droughts.

“The challenge is to identify the right candidates who can deliver fast-paced reforms and policies in their work sphere,” the prime minister’s aide said.

Articulate and suave, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been considered for the defence portfolio, another high-profile role that is crucial to Modi’s geopolitical ambitions and plans to boost Indian industry. But there was no one to take Jaitley’s place in finance, the sources said.

A spokesman for Modi declined to comment.

An official in Jaitley’s office said they didn’t have any knowledge of a possible reshuffle.

Modi tends to keep such decisions close to his chest, and the sources said the final decision lay with the prime minister. They added that he has yet to make up his mind on the changes, and that nothing has been confirmed.

Another close aide to the prime minister dismissed talk of a reshuffle as speculation, saying it had no basis.


The problem with the government’s search for talent is that Modi’s Hindu nationalist administration is loath to tap people who are associated with other ideologies, such as liberals or the left.

At the same time, the right-wing intelligentsia has not developed after decades of rule by the centrist Congress party, under which liberal institutions flourished.

“Compared to the Congress, we have a smaller talent pool and less exposure, but it’s only a matter of time that we expand our base,” BJP vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said.

He said Modi has “embarked on the process of fine-tuning the government machinery and also send a concrete signal that inefficiency will be checked.”

BJP’s defeat in Bihar state polls earlier this year led to calls from within the party and the Hindu group that is its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to remove ministers and party officials who failed to deliver.

Although a general election is not due until 2019, the government’s fortunes will depend on upcoming provincial polls, including an election in bellwether Uttar Pradesh state in 2017.

Top RSS and BJP leaders are expected to meet in New Delhi in the second week of January, where these issues are likely to be discussed.

A revamp is also expected to send the message that Modi will not tolerate remarks by ministers that fan intolerance against India’s non-Hindu minorities.

Junior ministers Giriraj Singh and Niranjan Jyoti could be removed after they made public remarks construed as anti-minority, the sources said. Singh’s and Jyoti’s offices said they have no information about Modi’s reshuffle plans.

Some ministers are also looking for a change. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has asked to be moved to a portfolio with a more domestic focus, the sources said.

Swaraj’s office said they will not comment about her plans.

Road transport minister Nitin Gadkari was offered additional charge of the agriculture ministry, but he declined saying he already had too big a job, the sources said.

A source in Gadkari’s office declined to comment, calling it a “hypothetical question.”

Modi is looking to the RSS and may go further afield in southern and northeastern states to find new, lesser-known faces to bring to his government, his aide said. That would also give his cabinet a more pan-India feel, the aide said.


  1. The aache din Government is now telling an open truth for the first time. It is very hard to find qualified people if they are
    required to worship the PM like an infallible deity; thus even getting qualified Ministers from his own party might be too hard.

  2. An analysis of 541 of the 543 winning candidates by National Election Watch (NEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) showed that 186 or 34 percent of the newly-elected members have disclosed criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

    In 2009, 30 percent of the Lok Sabha members had criminal cases registered against them. This has now gone up by four percent.

    According to a press release, a candidate with criminal cases had 13 percent chance of winning in the 2014 Lok Sabha election whereas it was five percent for an aspirant with a clean record.

    Party-wise, the largest 98 or 35 percent of the 281 winners from the BJP have in their affidavits declared criminal cases against themselves.

    Winners with cases related to murder: 9 winners have declared cases related to murder. Out of these, 4 winners have been fielded by BJP, 1 winner has been fielded by INC, LJP, RJD, Swabhimani Paksha each and one winner is an independent.

    Know 27 Facts about 16th Lok Sabha 2014 majority MPs with criminal background and Crorepati

    Winners with cases related to Attempt to Murder: 17 winners have declared cases of attempt to murder. Out of these, 10 winners have been fielded by BJP, 2 winners by AITC and one winner each from INC, NCP, RJD, Shiv Sena and Swabhimani Paksha.

    Winners with cases related to causing Communal Disharmony: 16 winners declared cases related to causing communal disharmony. Out of these, 12 winners were fielded by BJP and 1 winner by TRS, Pattali Makkal Katchi, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen and AIUDF each.

    Among the NDA coalition partners,six of the 37 winners (16 percent) from the AIADMK, 15 of the 18 winners (83 percent) from the Shiv Sena, and seven of the 34 winners (21 percent) of the Trinamool Congress also disclosed criminal cases against themselves.

    The countries own elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces Fifteen Serious Charges including the Post Godhra violence wanted to revamp his ministry.

    In distant India, ministers carry laptops and wait for their turn to eagerly present their current and future strategies to sundry members of a social organisation whose aim, by its own reckoning, is “to bring to life the all-round glory and greatness of our Hindu Rashtra”. Those who make such presentations include the Union finance, defence and home ministers, among others.

    The presentations and discussions are behind closed doors and there is no way to tell exactly what was discussed. But the fact that the ministers trooped in to the RSS headquarters to make their presentations at the allotted time slots tells its own story and lays bare the balance of power.

    Does the entire cabinet trooping across to the headquarters of a cultural organisation to have their performance evaluated not suggest “favour” and “affection”? Or even “fear”?

    Are strategic presentations to an organisation that wishes to bring “to life the all-round glory and greatness of our Hindu Rashtra” by ministers necessary for “due discharge of (my) duties as a minister”? It is tough to believe that any judge anywhere in India would buy that argument.

    So who will they make these presentations to next? The Muslim Personal Law Board? Akal Takht? All India Christian Council?

    The presentation of blunder history or addressing state dignitary,even help from speech therapist through the teleprompter can’t understood by immature Prime minister representing 1.2 billions. The HRD minister who doesn’t even know which degree she has been honoured.I wonder how our great Autonomous Election commision of India verify the affidavit attached with forms representing the ‘Good governance’ of future India.

    Jai Hind

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