Though it is too early to say that the current Union Cabinet reshuffle is one of the most balanced one but one can surely say the exercise carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to strengthen BJP’s position ahead of state as well as Parliamentary elections slated in 2019. If deliverance of governance is the aim and performance remains yardstick the reshuffle is no doubt an exercise in the right direction. Broadly speaking, the Prime Minister affects cabinet reshuffles to meet two objectives– administrative spruce-up and political messaging. The former is to shed flab and inject fresh blood into the system. The latter, to reach out to social and caste groups for electoral mobilisation. When the BJP won a massive victory in 2014, the Defence Ministry was first handed over to Arun Jaitley. He held the dual charge along with that of Finance. Later Manohar Parrikar was drafted in from Goa. The first chance that he got, the IIT graduate decided to return to Panjim to lead a fragile coalition. The baton was again handed over to Jaitley till a replacement was found. Elevation of Nirmala Sitharaman as full fledge Defence Minister from Minister of State has no doubt been welcomed as empowering of woman but has taken everyone by surprise. With the Modi’s ‘Make in India’ dream giving wings to spruce up core manufacturing within the domestic parameters and enlarging private participation in defence manufacturing no doubt a person of clean integrity could be the demand and here the professor stands at high pedestal; her previous stint as Commerce Minister has gone well with the captains of industry which could have been one of the reason for her elevation to such an important portfolio. In the pipeline are large acquisition for airforce in the multirole aircrafts, missile and radars, for army it is missiles, attack helicopters, tanks and artillery and for navy ships, submarines and maritime patrolling aircrafts and so on from the long list of back log left by the previous Congress regime. Now she is in the core ministry and people know her credentials which helped her get the new portfolio.
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