Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Cabinet Expansion of Modi Government:- Shouldn't Critics focus on Big Picture than Indulging in Cynicism?

The first major expansion of PM Narendra Modi's Cabinet took place on 5th July 2016. Around 19 new ministers have been inducted in the Cabinet whereas Prakash Javadekar has been promoted to the Cabinet rank. Expanding and reshuffling of council of ministers is a common event in any government. But, as it's Modi government, the opposition parties consider it as their duty to criticise even the expansion.

Frankly speaking, criticism has a key role in any democracy as it's the only way to remind the government of possible errors, mistakes, omissions/commissions etc in policy or functioning of the government. But, what will you do if cynicism replaces the criticism? Does cynicism anyway help democracy?

I always believe that there is a very thin line between criticism and cynicism. If an action/policy/performance is critically scrutinized in an unbiased manner then such scrutiny is called true criticism. But if the scrutiny is done in a biased manner then it simply amounts to cynicism.

In Modi era, majority of media is behaving like opposition parties and sometimes their scrutiny becomes very cynic. Let's decode some scrutinies by media and political opponents.

Almost all are unanimous that this expansion is based on merit, competency and expertise. Then why to deduce a caste and political angle? If some are inducted in the cabinet due to their merit, then why to attach caste factor with their selection? What the critics want to tell? That the ministers are inducted purely because of their castes? Is such view not undermining the merit of that particular minister?

This reminds me an incident. A Chief Engineer from ST community who is very competent once confessed in front of me that he was very frustrated because people don't judge his competency rather focus on the quota stamp on him.

Media, which claims that it fights against caste discrimination, always invokes caste first, be it selection of Chief Ministers (in Maharashtra and Jharkhand) or the present expansion of central council of ministers. If Anupriya Patel deserves to be a minister because of her competency, then do we need to highlight her caste?

Similarly critics are also saying that the Cabinet expansion has been done keeping in view the upcoming UP assembly elections. I am yet to understand how this is related to UP elections. UP gave 73 seats to BJP in Lok Sabha 2014 polls. Thus it's natural that 15 ministers from UP can be inducted into the Cabinet.

One who is criticising selection of ministers from UP, should also tell the PM, if not from UP, then from where he should appoint new ministers. Should he choose new ministers the states like TN or Kerala where he doesn’t have MPs or straight away import from Europe and America?

Then there is debate on who loses and who gains. According to JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP Pawan Kumar Varma some ministers are undeserving to be in the council of ministers. Has Varma ever assessed the council of ministers in Bihar government? A true scrutiny will tell that at least one-third of council members don't deserve to be ministers. Especially, Tej Pratap Yadav, in no way is fit to be deputy chief minister.

Some also raised fingers at the size of the council of ministers (78 ministers at par with UPA) invoking Modi's promise of minimum government and maximum governance. Here the point is, what does the slogan of "minimum government and maximum governance" means. Does the size of council of ministers represent whether a government is minimum or maximum?
Government doesn't mean the council of ministers only. It's the entire system involving bureaucrats and other statutory bodies. Minimum government means less bureaucratic procedure (Red tapism) and maximum governance means faster delivery with highest degree of transparency. If you become cynic then the size will only be seen as the government.
I will point out towards two things only. Expansion and reshuffle are prerogatives of the Prime Minister. India has a parliamentary system yet sometimes elections are contested like presidential elections. Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and now Narendra Modi have contested Lok Sabha elections like a Prime Minister should and people also voted them through their representatives (irrespective of merits of contesting candidates). Thus it's Narendra Modi's responsibility to give a good governance.

In Narendra Modi's case he is the authority (whereas Manmohan Singh many times had confessed lack of authority with him due to coalition compulsion). Next, Mr. Modi is one of the most interactive Prime Ministers of India. He has a perfect feedback system on working of his ministers, not only from his trusted auditors placed inside the PMO, but, also from public through various modes such as '', and social platforms. 
Thus he is aware of feedbacks about his government's functioning and performance and competent enough to induct and allot portfolios as per his assessment.
Instead of indulging in biased criticism (or cynicism) people should have looked at the big picture. For example, many people have to say that Jayant Sinha is demoted as he was moved out of finance ministry and placed in civil aviation ministry. 
The big picture is that Air India is incurring Rs. 30,000 crore loss every year. Thus Modi trusted on Sinha to revive Air India as a profit making unit. All other allocations can be seen in this way.

Instead of indulging in cynicism, critics should have focused on the big picture. It's time the entire political opposition and media should support the government through constructive opposition (through unbiased scrutiny) in the interest of the nation.

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