Claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not trust his political colleagues, the Congress on Sunday said the cabinet reshuffle earlier in the day “reflects maximum government and no governance” and, by dropping ministers, the government has admitted its “gigantic failure”.
Terming induction of new nine Ministers of State as “senior citizen’s club”, party spokesperson Manish Tewari said the average age of these ministers is 60.44 years when the “median age of India’s 1.24 billion people is about 27 years and the Prime Minister has been waxing eloquent about the youth of this country”.
He also claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed “strangely disconnected from the exercise”.
“It seemed as if BJP President Amit Shah is the Prime Minister and not Modi. Never ever has the absence of the Prime Minister in a cabinet reshuffle process been more evident,” he said, adding that the real story is in the dropping and that is where the admission of the gigantic failure of this government comes.
Relieving Skill Development Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Minister Kalraj Mishra of their portfolios meant “no skilling, no employment generation and, in addition, the MSME sector has been wiped out”, said Tewari.
He also alleged that those promoted to cabinet rank were being rewarded for working for “khaas aadmi” (VIPs).
“The Petroleum Minister in the last 38 months has not served the ‘aam aadmi’. It is obvious that he has served some ‘khaas aadmi’, that he has been promoted,” he said, adding that the “Power Minister is also the treasurer of the BJP, so obviously he must have performed well”.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were elevated to cabinet rank in Sunday’s reshuffle.
The Congress also slammed the induction of Anant Kumar Hegde, Lok Sabha member from Uttara Kannada, in the council of ministers, saying that “he was captured on camera, thrashing three doctors in a private hospital in Karnataka”.
“Modi does not have any faith in his political colleagues is the message he is sending out to his own party, by inducting people into the union council of ministers, who are not even Members of Parliament,” Tewari said.
“The broader message is that a government which was run by bureaucrats, controlled by the PMO, is now going to have bureaucrats in ministerial positions also,” he added.
He called Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s elevation “mere tokenism” and said Nirmala Sitharaman’s appointment as Defence Minister as a reward for non-performance.
“We do wish that she does not handle the Defence Ministry in the manner in which she handled the Commerce Ministry. For over 30 months, the exports and imports of India were on a crippling decline,” he added.