If the mega reshuffle of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet was a report card of ministers’ performance, then some ministers passed with flying colours, scoring straight As. Seven ministers, who were among the 43 who took oath today, earned promotions to cabinet rank from MoS post.
Those who aced the review and earned promotions were Kiren Rijiju (Arunachal Pradesh), Anurag Singh Thakur (Himachal Pradesh), Hardeep Singh Puri (Punjab), Parshottam Rupala (Gujarat), Mansukh Mandaviya (Gujarat), G Kishan Reddy (Telangana), and RK Singh (Bihar).
So what worked for these leaders? A quick analysis points to a combination of performance and politics. Let’s take a look.
He was the Minister of State of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs of India. His promotion is seen as part of the BJP’s bid to strengthen its roots in the northeast, which accounts for 25 Lok Sabha seats. Also Manipur goes to polls next year. As far as performance goes, Rijiju has had a trouble-free stint without any controversy so far and a clean image. The social media saavy minister is often seen participating in online health challenges and lauding regional achievements.
Thakur, a cricketer-turned-politician, is also an industrialist and agriculturist. He was serving as minister of state in finance and corporate affairs. This Himachal leader’s elevation is being seen as an attempt to strengthen base in Himachal Pradesh, which goes to polls early 2023. Thakur represents the Hamirpur Lok Sabha constituency and is among the youngest in the Modi cabinet. He has been in the forefront of defending government policies and served in various Parliamentary committees.
Hardeep Singh Puri
Puri hails from Punjab, the state that is going to polls next year. He served as MoS Civil Aviation but his expertise is also in business and commerce. The 1974 batch Indian Foreign Service officer served as the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013. This pro-reforms minister may not have a mass base in Punjab but could be the face of BJP’s push in the state where it had been thus far piggybacking on its former ally Akali Dal.
Rupala was the union MoS for Panchayati Raj. Belonging to the influential Patidar community, Rupala’s elevation could also be a poll plan for the state that goes to polls in late 2022. He is a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat.
Mansukh Mandaviya also hails from poll-bound Gijarat and belongs to the Patidar community. The fact that the PM trusted him with the health ministry in the time of COVID shows the trust Modi has in him. A Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat he held the post of Minister of state for Health and Family Welfare India as well as Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways and Union Minister of State for Chemical and Fertilizers.
G Kishan Reddy
Reddy was the former president of the BJP in undivided Andhra Pradesh. He is an old RSS, ABVP hand and got his first break as an MoS to Amit Shah’s Home ministry. His elevation could be a part of BJP’s focus on Telangana where they made gains in Greater Hyderabad corporation elections and got a good number of votes in some Lok Sabha seats too. That he belongs to the politically-dominant Reddy community is a plus too.
RK Singh is a Rajput from Bihar, a former IAS officer, former union Home secretary. He served as a minister of state for Skill Development and largely kept a low profile. His being a Rajput from Bihar is seen as an attempt to woo the community in the state where RJD and BJP are vying for the their attention. A former bureaucrat, Singh is a member of Parliament for Arrah, Bihar, since May 2014.