Dr Manmohan Singh who was criticized for policy paralysis surprised his critics recently with a spate of new policies and reform push. The opposition parties were taken aback and did not know what hit them. All of a sudden the much maligned PM bull-dozed his way through the opposition thereby putting the opposition parties in a fix. A burly sardar, a Congress supporter emphasized, ‘never under-estimate a sardar, especially when he is cornered, he hits back with full impact.’ The soft spoken PM seems to have had the last laugh?
The Prime Minister seems to have done a fair job with the cabinet reshuffle, touted as the last change in the cabinet before the general elections in 2014. He seems to have made meaningful changes in the council of ministers by infusing the young. Bringing in as many as 17 new faces is commendable change in important ministries to drive reforms. The normal seniority and regional balance have taken a back seat, with little resistance from the old horses most of whom are tainted or have allegations against them. None of them could put pressure on the PM and Sonia Gandhi.
With a total number of 78 ministers, including the PM, 33 of Cabinet rank, 12 Ministers of State with independent charge and 33 Ministers of State. Andhra Pradesh seems to have got the highest representation. The reshuffle, also geared for giving fillip to the recent reform push of the government. The average age of the union cabinet has reduced marginally – from 59.6 to 58.9, but the youth emphasis is very much visible in the selection of ministers of state with independent charge. Indian corporate has expressed happiness with the PM’s new team. However IAC member Arvind Kejriwal calls it a musical chair. BJP says the reshuffle will be of no good to the beleaguered government.
With the long over due cabinet rejig complete, big question is whether Sonia Gandhi will be able to put the party back on track for the next general election in 2014. If the young and new faces perform satisfactorily against all odds, they have a fair chance in the coming elections. None of the opposition parties pose a serious challenge as they are also trying to cut loose from allegations from IAC and its leaders.