Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s big cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday which many thought would be an act of political imperative had turned out to be a big surprise.
In 2014, when Narendra Modi formed his cabinet the biggest surprise was Smriti Irani and the portfolio allotted to her-the HRD ministry.
Two years hence, she has been divested of an important portfolio and has been relegated to a inconsequential textile ministry.
Prakash Javadekar who was elevated to the cabinet rank, will now fill in her shoes.
So many theories are doing rounds on what forced Modi’s hand. Many of the analysts say this is the result of the performance evaluation done by the PM and BJP chief Amit Shah.
Proximity to powers that be, won’t essentially win the heart of prime minister’ these analysts say.
Implementation of policies that enhance growth and cent percent dedication to PM’s ideas are dominant factors when Modi rejigged portfolios, these analysts would add.
Along with this the political necessities before the crucial Uttar Pradesh election also weighed in PMs mind when he made big changes in the cabinet.
These analysis of the first major re-allocation of the portfolios might be true, but in their urge to present Modi as a statesman, they ignore the political content of the move.
In more than one sense this is a continuation of what we have seen ever since Modi was presented as the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP.
The avalanche of writings presented him as a man of few words who believes in action. Taking cue from the perceived growth story of Gujarat, Modi was presented as one leader who is totally dedicated for economic development of the country, come what may.
Now the same thing is being propagated meticulously without going beneath and finding how the Sangh agenda is being implemented under the garb of effecting changes, taking performance of individual ministers as the yard stick.
Two major changes can be understood to drive home the point that it was RSS vision again that become driving force that influenced changes . Changing Irani from HRD ministry and giving it to Javadekar.
Irani, right from the word go tried to implement what the Sangh Parivar always considered as its pet projects.
She systematically tried to implement the Sangh agenda in education sector. All the controversies she courted were during this process.
Be it calling an academician like Anil Kakodkkar or her decision to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language in Kendriya Vidyalaya were all done in true Sangh spirit.
No Sangh leader had any reservations against her handling of the Hyderabad Central University issue which led to the Dalit scholar Rohit Vemula to take his life.
Despite being a street fighter for the Sangh, why she was shunted out?
Despite her great attempts, all her belligerent approaches could achieve was courting controversies, generating debates which put the Sangh and the BJPon the back foot.
The controversies surrounding JNU and Hyderabad University, the handling of issues in Madras and Bombay IIT all put Sangh in a precarious position, because these generated huge controversy which saw the secular, Left intellectuals taking on Sangh and how its ideology worked against modernity.
The Sangh though supportive of her actions could not muster the intellectual wherewithal to defend her.
They would have loved to have the saffronisation process to happen in a less controversial manner.
Despite a report pending before Smriti Irani she could not take forward the National Education Policy to the implementation stage.
Her reported differences with PMO over the degree of autonomy to the proposed world class universities might have also worked against her.
But it was not because of the measures she took that annoyed RSS and Modi, but often her belligerent acts created controversies, thus delaying the implementation of policies which are close to the Sangh.
Cut to Prakash Javadekar, the only man who got a promotion in Tuesday’s cabinet reshuffle. He in fact reflects the other side of the Sangh agenda.
The environment ministry was subjected to a great deal of criticism from industry during the UPA regime.
Industry captains criticised how Jairam Ramesh the then minister denied permission to various projects citing environmental reasons.
UPA government changed minister and handed it over Jayanti Natarajan and then to Veerappa Moily.
Though industry’s attitude changed when Moily cleared controversial projects overriding opposition from the environmentalists and rights activists. But industry and even foreign capital expected more from environment ministry.
And when Modi, emerged victorious, they expected a lot. And he appointed Javadekar as minister with independent charge of the environment ministry.
Without any serious due diligence, he was instrumental in clearing projects which could have serious environmental consequences.
In the first 100 days he had cleared 240 of 325 projects which had been in limbo during the UPA rule.
So Javadekar was the darling of the industry and therefore to the Sangh also.
Now Modi and Sangh expects him to perform in the HRD ministry in the same way he did in the environment ministry.
The take away from Tuesday’s reallocation of portfolios is that the Sangh is very serious in implementing its projects.
But they want to do it quietly, without the histrionics and noise, which was the hallmark of the soap opera actor turned politician.