Cabinet Reshuffle Next?

Well now that the BJP has finally reshuffled its Parliamentary Board, will there be a Cabinet reshuffle next? There are some blanks that have to be filled, especially when Union Ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and R.C.P. Singh did not get a Rajya Sabha extension. But knowing Narendra Modi, the exercise, whenever it happens, will be more than just filling in the blanks. This will presumably be the last reshuffle before 2024 so he would want to do some big ticket tinkering and messaging. Will Nitin Gadkari remain in the Cabinet, for he seems to have been cut to size after being dropped from the party’s parliamentary board? And is the RSS okay with the sidelining of one of its favourites? Those in the know say that since Modi is fulfilling most of the Sangh’s agenda, he has their full support. Also, the RSS is not going to mess with someone with Modi’s electoral winnability. The promotion of another RSS favourite, Devendra Fadnavis would have placated the Parivar somewhat. Apart from Gadkari, even Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been shafted, which really leaves Rajnath Singh as the last man standing from the Vajpayee era. But from all accounts, Rajnath will survive, for unlike Gadkari and Shivraj, he has never been a challenger for the PM’s post and was in fact one of the first to vouch for Modi’s candidature in 2013—even though at the time he was party president and could have put forward his own case. Incidentally, there is also talk of a change in a few Chief Minister-ships, including that of a state in North India that is about to go to polls soon. So, watch the political weather bulletin coming from the PMO.

Congress President Election

While the Modi-Shah duo are busy revamping their party, the Congress seems stuck in a limbo. With its presidential elections coming up it does seem as if the entire exercise will once again be for naught. It doesn’t look as if Rahul Gandhi is in a mood to step up, and no other challenger has put forward his or her bid. So we are either looking at a remote control candidate put up by the Gandhis or else Sonia Gandhi will continue. In fact, there is a buzz that Ashok Gehlot will be asked to step in as party president, thereby shifting to Delhi and leaving Rajasthan free for Sachin Pilot. But given the acrimony between him and Pilot it is unlikely that Gehlot will stick to this script. He was recently heard fending off a question regarding his elevation as the party president as “kalpanik” (speculation). The only compromise that Gehlot might agree to is if someone other than Pilot replaces him as CM Rajasthan. But he is right about one thing—all this is just “kalpanik” as there seems to be no buzz regarding the inner party polls within the Congress. On another note, even BJP President J.P. Nadda’s term finishes in January next year. But that’s for another column.

A Very Public Plea

There was an intriguing tweet recently by Faisal Patel, who, as we know, is the late Ahmed Patel’s son. Faisal has tweeted tagging Shashi Kant Sharma, the OSD to Ashok Gehlot, claiming that minorities in Rajasthan are reaching out to him for help with their “simple problems”. However, Faisal alleges that there has been no reply to his pleas to Sharma. This tweet was immediately picked up by journalists and party workers, who recalled how Ahmed Patel had always supported Ashok Gehlot but the latter does not seem to be so inclined towards the late leader’s son.