Twenty one months after assuming office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may look for a cabinet reshuffle to reinvigorate stalled economic reforms and appease critics, according to Reuters. He is likely to infuse fresh blood and some trusted faces in his government.
This is likely to happen after the re-election of Amit Shah as the BJP president by the end of this month.
The exercise holds importance as there will be assembly polls in states like West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Assam. The ruling BJP would also like to register a win in the crucial 2017 UP polls, if it wants to hold on to power nationally in 2019.
It is likely that PM Modi may induct some ministers from the poll-bound state. Given the significance of Dalit voters in the state, a Dalit face might also find a place in the Cabinet.
Currently, there are 14 ministers in the Cabinet from the state quota, of which five are Union Cabinet ministers.
The party is more likely to focus on governance and development agenda in the upcoming assembly polls in different states.
PM Modi recently said: “We have a three-point programme – development, development and development. All problems could be solved only through development.”
According to Reuters, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, may move to defence after he delivers his annual budget in late February. Power and coal minister Piyush Goyal is likely to replace Jaitley.
The BJP-led alliance has faced widespread criticism for failing to get key economic bills like the Goods and Services Tax (GST) cleared in Parliament. Experts say failing on tax and land reforms, the euphoria that met PM Modi’s 2014 election triumph has given way to investor disillusionment.
According to the report, Jaitley’s exit from the ministry reflects the government’s belief that a fresh face is needed to push key reforms to kickstart the economy.
There is also an allegation that India’s fast-growing $2 trillion economy, has not created enough jobs to employ an expanding workforce.
India’s estimated GDP for FY15 has been reduced to 7.4 per cent from earlier projections of 8 per cent or more, due to stagnant private investments and a global decline in growth.
The Reuters report suggests that Goyal, 51, was being groomed for his next big role. Recently, a white paper on banking was shared with him to seek his inputs.
The ex-investment banker is credited to turn around state-run Coal India, tackled chronic power shortages and backed renewable sources of energy.
Goyal is a good communicator, but lacks political and electoral experience.
There is also talk of under-performers to be reassigned as General Secretaries of the BJP. Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, could also see a larger role.
Clearly, for PM Modi, time is right to set the ball of performance rolling in a new and better direction.