NEW DELHI: Lack of a Brahmin face from the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and a formal NDA ally, JD(U), staying away make the third reshuffle in the Union Council of Ministers by Prime Minister Narendra Modi an unfinished agenda.
While BJP chief Amit Shah seemingly addressed the simmering discontent in the Brahmin constituencies on account of a clear Thakur tilt by picking up ministerial nominees from the caste in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, he is yet to address the caste imbalance from Madhya Pradesh. Brahmin leaders in the BJP rue that the party picked Thakurs as chief ministers in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
“Anil Madhav Dave was the sole representative of Brahmins in the ministry from Madhya Pradesh. His demise has left a political vacuum. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is from the other backward castes (OBCs). Ahead of the next year’s Assembly elections, the sense of being ignored amongst Brahmins will need to be addressed as the BJP will face a strong anti-incumbency factor,” said a senior BJP functionary.
In an acknowledgement of anguish amongst Brahmins, Shah dropped a Thakur (Rajiv Pratap Rudy) and replaced him with Ashwani Choubey from Bihar. The ouster of Kalraj Mishra as Cabinet minister has seen a replacement in Minister of State Shiv Prakash Shukla from Uttar Pradesh. MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will go to elections in October next year.
Furthermore, Bihar continues to be in a political flux. JD(U) insiders claim that the party is poised to gain numerical muscle soon in the Assembly at the expense of the Congress. “The JD(U) could well be crossing the 100-mark in the Assembly of 243, which may further change the contour of the alliance. The saffron outfit will have to induct JD(U) in the Council of Ministers for the sake of stability in Bihar,” said a close aide of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The third Cabinet reshuffle by the PM on September 3 was an exclusive BJP event, as none of the alliance partners figured in the exercise. The JD(U) has a total of 12 MPs in both the Houses of Parliament.
BJP insiders believe that another expansion of the Council of Ministers may take place early next month.