Rising above party factions
The elevation of Prakash Javadekar to Cabinet rank and induction of Vijay Goel as Minister with Independent charge are a clear indicator that after two years into the office, Modi sees himself as not being obliged to live up to the expectations of any one party faction.
In fact prior to the expansion, even the nominations for the Rajya Sabha had clearly indicated that the Prime Minister and party president Amit Shah were looking to reach out to the camps and leaders perceived to be not on their side. Rehabilitation of maverick Subramanian Swamy and former Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu are a case in point.
The induction of Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia, who is perceived as a camp follower of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, once again underlines the policy of outreach being followed by the leadership. Both Goel and Javadekar are known protégés of Pramod Mahajan, the late party strongman. While Javadekar had managed a toe-hold despite his mentor’s demise, Goel was in absolute oblivion especially after he was shunted out from the home turf of Delhi, where he had Chief Ministerial aspirations.
Keeping the influence of the Delhi-based leaders at bay is also evident in reaching out to the regional talents especially those who have had tenure with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). Some of these leaders are absolutely unfamiliar with Delhi’s media and power circuits. The induction of the likes Anil Madhav Dave, Mahendra Nath Pandey, Ajay Tamta, Rajen Gohain, and Faggan Singh Kulaste are almost unknown figures in the power corridors of Lutyens’ Delhi.
Similarly, empowering politicians like Narendra Singh Tomar by giving him the powerful Rural Development Ministry and elevating Manoj Sinha to the independent charge of the Ministry of Communication once again shows that the scouting of talent for this round of the expansion and resultant reshuffle was carried out by the Modi-Shah duo in consultation with their ideological mentors the RSS.
By handing over the crucial Ministries of HRD and Rural Development to Javadekar and Tomar - and for that matter Youth Affairs to Vijay Goel - clearly indicates that given their Sangh and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad backgrounds, Modi-Shah combine is looking forward to these public interface ministries working in close coordination with the ideological cadres both on the campuses and also in the rural areas.
Thus, it can be safely said that through the current round of reshuffle, the Prime Minister has clearly indicated that he is now his own man - quietly but stridently independent. Given his more than unorthodox career path, no wonder Modi has decided to adopt an unorthodox technique to manage his Ministers, who bear an imprint of his confidence.