NEW DELHI: With BJP chief Amit Shah getting the weighty Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) portfolio, the message Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to have sent out is that his political sherpa will be the Number 2 in the government for all practical purposes.
In other words, Shah perhaps won’t be confined to Home but will oversee the functioning of most ministers, freeing up Modi to concentrate on larger issues, including global concerns.
“Except for new Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and a few others, the rest are junior to Shah and have taken orders from him in the past five years. The perfect chemistry between Modi and Shah would soon see the BJP chief cracking the whip, making the ministerial team deliver on promises made in the manifesto,” said a top-ranking BJP functionary.
With Shah manning the MHA, BJP leaders expect the focus to sharpen on implementing the NRC (National Register of Citizens) across the country, besides pursuing the party’s hard line on J&K, including abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A.
“Within a year, clear steps may be taken towards constructing a Ram temple at Ayodhya since Shah works in close coordination with RSS top leadership,” added the BJP functionary.
By giving Nirmala Sitharaman the charge of finance, Modi appears to have reposed faith in her to take tough decisions to kickstart the economy that is stuttering at present.
Adding MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) to Nitin Gadkari’s Road and Surface Transport portfolio indicates Modi prioritising the issue of unemployment and the need to address it on a war footing.
The surprise pick of career bureaucrat S Jaishankar as the Minister of External Affairs is in line with Modi’s ambitions to emerge a global leader with impact, while ironing out irritants in India’s relations with China, including the conclusion of border talks.
Harsh Vardhan has returned to the Ministry of Health, besides Ministries of Earth Sciences, Science and Technology.
The PM is keen to operationalise AIIMS projects sanctioned in his first term. Narendra Singh Tomar has also been vested with the task of heading the rural development, agriculture and farmers’ welfare and Panchayati Raj ministries.
Amit Shah and S Jaishankar are the two new faces in the CCS that comprises ministers of home, defence, finance and external affairs, with PM in the chair