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Opinion Columnists 27 Aug 2017 Of Cabinet reshuffle ...
The writer is a Delhi-based journalist.

Of Cabinet reshuffles & popularity contests

Published Aug 27, 2017, 1:07 am IST
Updated Aug 27, 2017, 1:07 am IST
Since Mr Sibal had represented the AIMPLB in court, its officebearers were keen that his response be given wide publicity.
Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu calling on Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, in New Delhi. (Photo: PTI)
 Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu calling on Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, in New Delhi. (Photo: PTI)

When Manohar Parrikar and Suresh Prabhu were given ministerial berths in the Modi government, there were great expectations from them. Given their educational qualifications — Mr Parrikar is an IIT graduate and Mr Prabhu  a CA — they were given the key ministries of defence and railways in the hope they would deliver. But both failed to live up to expectations. While Mr Prabhu was unable to get a grip on his ministry, Mr Parrikar could not shake off his provincial moorings. The result is that the PM is forced to look for replacements. 

According to the Delhi grapevine, a Cabinet reshuffle should take place before Mr Modi leaves for the Brics summit on September 3. At least one member of the Union Cabinet — rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who was given additional charge of the urban development ministry after M. Venkaiah Naidu’s resignation — has taken a pragmatic view. 


Probably realising that urban development is a temporary charge, he has evinced little interest in the ministry. Last week his nameplate was being removed from outside his office. Workers said they were doing so following instructions from the “top.”

Soon after the Supreme Court delivered its judgment on triple talaq last week, mediapersons received a message that Congress leader Kapil Sibal will respond to it that afternoon. Besides Mr Sibal’s office, the message was also put out by the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which had opposed the ban. 


Since Mr Sibal had represented the AIMPLB in court, its officebearers were keen that his response be given wide publicity. But Mr Sibal surprised everyone when he welcomed  the judgement, stating that instant triple talaq is “sinful.” Though the AIMPLB members have not said publicly, they were grumbling privately that they had expected Sibal to speak on their behalf. 

Besides wives and sons, it is not unusual for daughters-in-law of senior political leaders to plunge into politics. Some well known bahus, who were encouraged to enter politics are Sheila Dikshit, Mohsina Kidwai and Margaret Alva. Their numbers have swelled now


For instance, in Uttar Pradesh polls, both the daughters-in-law of Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav were centrestage. Former CM Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple Yadav, who is also a Lok Sabha MP, was a key campaigner while Akhilesh’s sister-in-law Aparna Yadav was  also visible during the election. Now there is a new bahu on the block. Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi’s daughter-in-law Richa, who had managed his campaign in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, has emerged as a leader in her own right. She has been hitting out at the Raman Singh government. Mr Jogi’s wife Renu and son Amit are already in politics. 


The BJP and the Congress may be on opposite sides of the political divide, but they have one thing in common: both want to see Delhi CM and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal rendered politically irrelevant. The BJP felt it had attained success in this mission when it swept the recent municipal elections in Delhi, while the Congress was equally upbeat when Mr Kejriwal’s party came a poor second in the Punjab Assembly elections. While both parties are convinced that Mr Kejriwal has been effectively marginalised, an Independence Day programme of a Delhi school recently proved to be an eye-opener for a Congress leader who was present at the show. As part of the programme, children had come dressed as leading leaders — Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajiv Gandhi, Mr Modi and Mr Kejriwal. 


While “Modi” expectedly got a big round of applause, it was “Kejriwal” who was greeted with the loudest cheers and claps.