Many senior ministers, who had been part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers, got a nasty shock when they were shown the door, just before the mega cabinet rejig on Wednesday. (July 7). Though, the long overdue reshuffle was very much on the cards, many ministers, who were expecting to be elevated to a more important rank, actually found they had got the proverbial pink slip and asked to resign.
In fact, 12 ministers were summarily dropped from PM Narendra Modi’s council of ministers – they were six cabinet ministers, one minister of state with independent charge and five other ministers of state (MoS).
So, who was the bearer of the bad news to these ministers? The dreaded “exit call” to each of these ministers was not made by the PMO but by the BJP president, J P Nadda, said a report by ThePrint. Quoting sources, the report added that PM Modi had shared the list of ministers to be sacked with Nadda on July 6 and after a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah and BL Santhosh, he had the tough task of personally informing the 12 ministers to tender their resignation.
One of the ministers was reportedly resting when he received a call from the BJP president’s office. He confessed to ThePrint that he had assumed it was a call to inform him that he had been elevated to cabinet rank, but he (Nadda) told him the party has decided to give him a different role. “So, as a party soldier, I tendered my resignation,” shared the minister.
Babul Supriyo, a minister of state, who had been a junior minister in the environment ministry, however could not hide his dismay at being dropped. On Facebook, at first, he had posted that he was asked to resign but later he clarified that he had “resigned” from his post as the Union minister of state, and not “asked to resign” as he had earlier put it. And, swallowing his “sadness”, he added that he was extremely happy to go today without a “spot of corruption” to his name.
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A few ministers, like Dr Harsh Vardhan (health), however had to leave under a cloud. ThePrint quoting sources pointed out that Dr Vardhan had to resign because of his inability to handle the COVID situation during the second wave. Political observers however had a different view – that he had ostensibly become the fall guy for the BJP-led government’s bungling of the pandemic in the second wave.
On the other hand, one of PM Modi’s ministers was happy to go since he had been unwell for a while and wanted to be divested of his ministerial responsibilities.
The six cabinet ministers who were dropped included Ravi Shankar Prasad (law, communications, and electronics and information technology), Prakash Javadekar (environment and information and broadcasting), Dr Harsh Vardhan (health), Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ (education), DV Sadananda Gowda (chemical and fertilisers), and Thawar Chand Gehlot, (social justice and empowerment).
Breaking the good news
Meanwhile, the less onerous task of breaking the good news to the new inductees, including the promotion of seven ministers, fell on B L Santhosh. Thirty-six new ministers joined PM Modi’s team, and seven were pushed up the ranks.
Santhosh reportedly had to call each of the ministers and tell them that they were going to be part of the Modi’s council of ministers and asked them to reach Delhi immediately. One of the new ministers, a leader from UP had to drop organising a family wedding that he was busy doing and had to reach Delhi immediately to be inducted into the cabinet. Later, he received another call from the PMO about a meeting with the prime minister the next day.