Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet reshuffle, inducting 36 new ministers and 7 old faces, appears to have significant political thought within, as the new Cabinet has at least seven ministers from Gujarat, which goes to polls next year.
Among the top ministers from the state are Amit Shah, who holds the Home portfolio and has been given charge of the newly created Ministry of Cooperation. Amit Shah is a Lok Sabha MP from Gandhinagar.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, though from Tamil Nadu, represents Gujarat as he has been elected to the Rajya Sabha from the state.
Mansukh Mandaviya and Purushottam Rupala, earlier ministers of state, have been elevated to the Cabinet. Mandaviya was relieved of the Ports, Shipping and Waterways portfolio, and given charge of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. From minister of state, Chemicals and Fertilizers, he will now be the Cabinet minister of the same.
Rupala who was minister of state, Panchayati Raj and Farmers’ Welfare, will now be the Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy.
Both the ministers are Patidar (Patels) leaders, with Mandaviya being a ‘leva’ Patel and Rupala being a ‘kadva’ Patel. Leva Patels are wealthier and among the highest in Patels whereas Kadva Patels are lower in the rung and dependent on agriculture.
Modi has inducted three other ministers of state from Gujarat, Darshana Vikram Jardosh, Munjapara Mahendrabhai and Devusinh Chauhan.
Jardosh, a three-time Lok Sabha MP from Surat, will be a junior minister in textiles and railways whereas Chauhan, a two-time MP from Kheda, will don a similar role in the communications ministry and Mahendrabhai, a first-time MP fromm Surendranagar, will be in Women and Child Development and AYUSH ministries.
The three ministers represent different communities in the OBC category of population.
With Modi at the top as Prime Minister, the new Cabinet gives maximum representation to the Gujarati population and will hope that this will play a key role in helping the BJP come to power in next year’s Gujarat Assembly elections.