Prime Minister Narendra Modi constituted a 58-member Council of Ministers, with more than 20 fresh faces.
Amit Shah as home minister
The induction of his long-time lieutenant and BJP president Amit Shah as Home Minister not only fortifies the Prime Minister’s authority, it might be the precursor to further changes in the party organisation and the national security architecture.
S.Jaishankar as the External Affairs Minister
The surprise induction of former Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar as the External Affairs Minister is evidently meant to deal with the difficult international relations. Mr. Jaishankar has been a close confidant of Mr. Modi. Presently, India faces challenges with its most important international partner, the U.S.
Mr. Modi, Mr. Shah and Mr. Jaishankar will form the centre of power. Rajnath Singh as Defence Minister and Nirmala Sitharaman as Finance Minister are next in the order.
While the top layer of the Council is infused with fresh talent and is expected to generate new momentum, its representative character is skewed.
1. It has only six women, one less than the previous one;
2. The majority community and the Hindi heartland States have disproportionate representation.
3.While Mr. Modi rewarded the upper caste groups that supported him wholeheartedly, the OBCs and Dalits who shifted to his party significantly in 2019 have been given lower representation.
Allies given less role
There is an argument that it is healthy that Mr. Modi does not bargain with caste, linguistic and region-oriented interests groups. Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel from Uttar Pradesh was dropped; the Janata Dal (United) from Bihar was offered only one berth, which it refused to accept; and the Shiv Sena wanted at least three but has had to be content with one.
Greater representation required
As equations change, Mr. Modi might have to rethink these positions and there is scope to expand. A Council more representative in nature, in terms of gender, social and linguistic backgrounds and religion, will better reflect India.