Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Cabinet expansion

Narendra Modi expanded his Council of Ministers on 9/11/2014. He added 21 ministers; four of cabinet rank, three of Minister of State with independent charge rank and 14 of Minister of State rank.
Manohar Parrikar was the first to take oath. He is not an MP. He was Chief Minister of Goa. He became Defence Minister. Arun Jaitley had held Defence as additional portfolio. Francis D’Souza was Deputy Chief Minister of Goa. He wanted to be Chief Minister. That did not happen. Laxmikant Parsekar became Chief Minister and was present for swearing-in of Manohar Parrikar.
Suresh Prabhu was next. He is not an MP. He was member of Shiv Sena. Uddhav Thackeray did not want him as minister. Suresh Prabhu quit Shiv Sena, joined BJP and became Railways Minister. He was Power Minister in Atal Behari Vajpayee’s cabinet. He had plans to reform power sector. Bal Thackeray wanted him to think about elections and had him replaced.
Jagat Prakash Nadda was a contender for the post of President of BJP. He is an MP. He got Health. This was held by Harsh Vardhan. The controversy regarding corruption in Medical Council of India and harassment of whistleblower could be the reason why Harsh Vardhan lost Health. AAP issued a statement against Nadda’s induction which said, “It is shocking that despite written evidence being available with the Prime Minister’s Office about the role of Nadda in getting whistleblower officer Sanjeev Chaturvedi removed as Chief Vigilance Officer of AIIMS, he had been made a Cabinet minister.”
Birender Singh was in Congress till some months back. Before Lok Sabha elections he joined BJP. He is not an MP. He got Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Water & Sanitation.
Bandaru Dattatreya got Labour.
Rajiv Pratap Rudy is a familiar figure on TV channels. He got Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.
Mahesh Sharma got Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi got Minority Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs.
Ram Kripal Yadav was in RJD till some months back. He joined BJP and won from Pataliputra. He got Drinking Water.
Haribhai Chaudhary got Home.
Sanwar Lal Jat got Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
Mohanbhai Kundariya got Agriculture.
Giriraj Singh got Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
Hansraj Ahir got Chemicals & Fertilisers.
Ramshankar Katheria got HRD.
Yalamanchili Satyanarayana Chowdary got Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.
Jayant Sinha got Finance. He is son of former minister Yashwant Sinha. Some said his appointment shows dynastic rule in BJP. Congress claimed his appointment was violation of Model Code of Conduct in Jharkhand which has state elections. Ajai Rai said “Our Pradesh general secretary has written to the Election Commission of India, pointing out that the elevation gives an undue advantage to one political party ahead of the elections.”
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore got Information & Broadcasting.
Babul Supriyo Baral got Urban Development, Urban Poverty Alleviation and Housing. He is Asansol MP. He is the first playback singer to become a member in Union Cabinet.
Niranjan Jyoti got Food Processing.
Vijay Sampla got Social Justice and Empowerment.
For some ministers there were changes in portfolios.
Arun Jaitley lost Defence, got Information & Broadcasting.
Harsh Vardhan lost Health, got Science & Technology and Earth Sciences.
Prakash Javadekar lost Information & Broadcasting.
Nitin Gadkari lost Rural Development. He held it as additional charge after Gopinath Munde’s death.
D. V. Sadananda Gowda lost Railways, got Law and Justice. Railways is considered fifth in importance. Home, Finance, Defence and External Affairs are considered more important. There was controversy about Sadananda Gowda’s son’s marriage to an actress.
Harsh Vardhan lost Health, got Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.
Ravi Shankar Prasad lost Law and Justice. Status of the Constitutional Amendment on appointment of Supreme Court and High Court Judges is not known. Half of the states had to ratify it.
Vijay Kumar Singh lost North East Region.
Shripad Naik lost Culture.
I am not in favour of non-MPs becoming union ministers. It is strange that three ministers of cabinet rank and not MPs. It is strange that Narendra Modi did not find any MP suitable to become Defence Minister. Vijay Kumar Singh was army chief. He could have been made Defence Minister. What was the need to give I&B to Arun Jaitley? He was I&B Minister and banned adult films on TV. It will be nice if he reverses ban on adult films and allows telecast of adult films on free-to-air channels between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and on pay channels any time. Finance Minister’s job is a full-time job. Twice he fell sick and spent time in hospital, once up to one month. Prakash Javadekar was doing a good job as I&B Minister. Perhaps he lost I&B because he did not oblige people who wanted ban on Rang Rasiya.
Smriti Irani continues to be HRD Minister. There was speculation that she will be shifted to I&B.
Names like Anurag Thakur, Chandan Mitra, Ramdas Athavale and S. S. Ahluwalia did rounds.
Except for Y. S. Chowdary new ministers are BJP members.
There was suspense about Shiv Sena member Anil Desai’s swearing-in. He had left Bombay. He landed in Delhi. He was told to return. It seems Uddhav Thackeray wanted Anil Desai be made cabinet minister. Modi offered MoS rank. It is said on Friday and Saturday Anant Geete went to 7 RCR. Modi did not meet him. Modi did not take Uddhav’s calls. Uddhav held a press conference at 7.15 p.m. and said if BJP takes NCP support directly or indirectly Shiv Sena will sit in the opposition. Soon Devendra Fadnavis said BJP will no longer hold discussions with Shiv Sena on ministers and portfolios.
Some talk of state and community representation. A minister is for the whole country. Talk of representing state or community is improper.
Some had admired Modi’s small or compact cabinet. Now it has 66 members. It remains to be seen whether more ministers will result in better governance. Meanwhile Modi’s Clean India Campaign has become a farce in some places. People do it for TV cameras. Satish Upadhyay and Shazia Ilmi did it in Delhi outside India Islamic Cultural Centre. In Mathura Hema Malini said she will not clean. She held broom for photographs.
Modi has shown it is his choice of ministers, ranks and portfolios. He will not allow allies to dictate terms to him.

BJP wins in Haryana and Maharashtra

BJP won in Legislative Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra.  In Haryana it was clear victory as BJP won in 47 seats out of 90.  In Maharashtra BJP emerged as the single largest party winning 123 seats out of 288.  NCP which has 41 seats declared unconditional outside support to BJP.

During by-elections that followed Lok Sabha elections BJP had done badly.  It had lost seats it had previously held.  These victories are a morale booster to BJP.

For Lok Sabha elections News24-Chanakya prediction was close.  This time India TV-C Voter was close for Haryana and India Today-Cicero was close for Maharashtra.  India TV-C Voter predicted BJP 45, INLD 23, Congress 15.  It was BJP 47, INLD 20, Congress 15.  India Today-Cicero predicted BJP 124. SS 71, Congress 35, NCP 29.  It was BJP 123, SS 63, Congress 42, NCP 41.

In Haryana BJP has come to power on its own for the first time.  Previously it was a junior partner in coalitions.  Families of Bansi Lal, Bhajan Lal and Devi Lal had dominated Haryana politics.  Then came Bhupinder Singh Hooda.  He promoted his family.  INLD dominated by Devi Lal’s descendants is second with 20 seats.  Congress is third with 15 seats.  HJC headed by Bhajan Lal’s son Kuldeep Bishnoi got two seats.  Kuldeep and his wife won the two seats.  Sushma Swaraj’s sister Vandana Sharma lost.  Many BJP members were opposed to Vandana Sharma’s candidature as they viewed it as dynasty nomination.

In Maharashtra BJP won 123, Shiv Sena 63, Congress 42, NCP 41.  MNS was reduced to one seat.  MIM won two seats, first time outside Hyderabad.  BJP’s allies Swabhimani Paksha, RPI (A), Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Shiv Sangram contested 27 seats and lost in 26. RSP won the lone seat.  SP got one seat.  Six independents won.  Breaking the alliance with Shiv Sena proved beneficial to BJP.  Since NCP has declared support to BJP there is not much Shiv Sena can bargain for.  Amit Shah said chief minister will be of BJP.  BJP has seats almost double to that of Shiv Sena.  Shiv Sena needs BJP more than BJP needs Shiv Sena.  Shiv Sena is in no position to dominate BJP and dictate terms to it.

Amit Shah said they are two steps closer to Congress-Free India.  In both states Congress has come third.  He made it clear it will be BJP chief minister in Maharashtra.  No chance for Uddhav Thackeray to become CM.

It is wrong to speak of 10 years of anti-incumbency in Haryana and 15 years of anti-incumbency in Maharashtra.  Elections are held every five years.  When a party in power wins an election there is no anti-incumbency for the preceding period.  If at all there is anti-incumbency it is of five years.  It is not anti-incumbency that causes defeat but failure to perform as per expectations.  Corruption, misrule, nepotism are some of the reasons why parties lose elections.

Modi did not campaign during by-elections.  He campaigned during Legislative Assembly elections.  That made a difference to BJP.  In both states BJP did not have chief ministerial candidates.

AAP did not contest elections.  Being Delhi-centric is not good for AAP.  In Maharashtra many have left AAP.

Was there any secret understanding between BJP and NCP?  Does Modi want to make Sharad Pawar defence minister?  Is that the reason why Arun Jaitley holds additional charge of defence minister?  It will be political suicide for Modi if he makes Sharad Pawar defence minister.

Modi spoke against dynastic rule.  There are dynasties in BJP.  Modi’s message was to all dynasties.

Whether there was Modi wave in Maharashtra is immaterial.  BJP emerged as the largest party.  It has NCP’s outside support.  It is in a position to form the government.  That is what matters.

India and ISIS

Don’t trouble trouble unless trouble troubles you.

ISIS is no danger to India.  Joining USA’s Coalition of the willing in fight against ISIS is of no benefit to India. It can damage India.

First of all there are Indian hostages in ISIS territory.  If India joins the fight ISIS can behead Indians one by one.  The outrage and uproar that will cause in India will be uncontrollable.  India was able to get nurses released from territory but failed to get construction labourers released.  How did that happen?  Was there any secret understanding that ISIS can keep construction labourers in release for nurses?

ISIS is neither an existential nor an immediate nor a clear nor a present danger to India.  ISIS was the creation of USA and its allies who wanted to pull down Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.  As long as ISIS operated in Syria, USA and its allies had no problem.  When ISIS expanded into Iraq and conquered some villages and small cities USA and its allies had no problem.  The problem started when ISIS conquered Mosul and Tikrit and other territories and driving out Christians, Yezidis and Shias.  USA was alarmed.  It started bombing ISIS areas in Iraq.  ISIS beheaded two Americans.  Then USA with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar bombed ISIS areas in Syria.  Cruise missiles were used.  Drones could have sufficed.  Perhaps USA wants to give business to cruise missile makers.  Oil refineries were destroyed.  That will give business to American contractors.

Barack Obama does not want to put boots on the ground.  War is unpopular with Americans.  Air strikes are generally safe.

There are some who twist facts to justify India joining fight against ISIS.  Someone said ISIS is already in India.  Lashkar- e- Toiba and Indian Mujahudden are ISIS.  That is wrong.   Lashkar- e- Toiba and Indian Mujahudden existed before ISIS.

Another argument is that all Indians working in Gulf countries are hostages.  That is ridiculous.  There is no danger to Indian workers in Gulf countries from ISIS.  ISIS is in no position to attack Gulf countries, leave alone conquer them.

Barack Obama said we underestimated ISIS.  Then some said we had told about dangers from ISIS to Congressional Committee.  Then Obama said we overestimated Iraq’s capacity to withstand ISIS.

Someone said Iraqi Generals were bribed by Gulf countries to let ISIS win.  Those Generals are enjoying life outside Iraq with the money they got.

After one person jumped the fence of White House there is question of Secret Service’s ability to secure White House.  He cleared five security rings.  The front door was unlocked.  He reached East Room.  Congressional Committee grilled Secret Service Director Julia Pierson on security lapses.

USA has no problem with the dictatorship in Egypt.  Egypt’s experiment with democracy was short-lived.  It is a mess in Libya.

There is report that support for ISIS is growing in Jordan.  ISIS has support in Turkey and Egypt.  For Egypt’s government Muslim Brotherhood is a problem.  ISIS is recruiting teens through social media.

India should not join fight against ISIS.  Let those who created ISIS deal with it.


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