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Upcoming byelections a test for both BJP and Opposition

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Upcoming byelections a test for both BJP and Opposition

Soon, a few byelections can be held which would assess the popularity of the Government and the preparedness of the Opposition. In some States, a few Lok Sabha seats are either vacant or going to be vacated for various reasons. Elections will be held in the next two to three months on these seats, and will be a matter of prestige for not just the BJP but also the Opposition. The Opposition parties have to show their mettle and at the same time prove that being united, they are ready to face the challenges posed by the BJP.

One Lok Sabha seat has been vacated each in J&K, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. In UP, two seats are going to be vacated. Elections for these five seats are expected to be held at the same time. Even if voting at the Anantnag seat is postponed due to security reasons, elections will be held for four seats at the same time. Anantnag seat is lying vacant after Mehbooba Mufti resigned from there to become the CM. Some say that postponement of election at Anantnag is a deliberate attempt because the PDP has not fared well in the Srinagar byelection, and Mehbooba wants to field her brother from Anantnag.

Uluberia seat in West Bengal is lying vacant after the death of Sultan Ahmed. Last Monday, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died. Before this, Jodhpur MP Sanwar Lal Jat had lost his life. Now, the Election Commission will finalise the date of polling for these seats.

Meanwhile, two seats from UP will be vacated. CM Yogi Adityanath and Deputy CM KP Maurya will resign from Gorakhpur and Phoolpur seats respectively as they are set to become MLCs. And then, byelections would be held on these two seats also. Even if Anantnag is left, byelections on four seats of Rajasthan, UP, and West Bengal would give many indications of future politics.



In India, there isn’t a tradition to allocate a ministry to a specialist of that field. Yes, you can find exceptions. It was so during the UPA regime as well as in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure. But this time, the dilemma has increased, especially after the recent reshuffle.

This time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accommodated many specialists in his Government. They are former bureaucrats and are considered experts in their fields. However, they have not been allocated portfolios according to their field of knowledge. Hardeep Singh Puri is a former IFS officer and has spent a long time as a Permanent Representative of India at the UN. One would have thought he would be given charge of the MEA, but he has been made the Housing and Urban Affairs Minister.

KJ Alphons, who has good knowledge of housing and urban development, has been accommodated in the Government. He had been the vice-chairman of the DDA, but he has been assigned the Ministry of Tourism and not urban development. In the same manner, RK Singh was Home Secretary and is considered a specialist of Naxalism and terrorism, but he has not been given the MHA; rather he has been assigned the Power Ministry. Former IPS officer Satyapal Singh will look after water management and not internal security.


This contradiction is, however, not new and has been there right from the beginning. Like Dr Harsh Vardhan, who had played a crucial role in eradicating polio, was given the Ministry of Environment. Former Army Chief VK Singh is looking after the MEA as junior minister. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who has good knowledge of the aviation sector, was looking after skill development. It could perhaps be a deliberate attempt to rouse people from their comfort zones. 



Ever since he formed his Government in 2014, PM Modi has ben trying to strike a balance between the established leaders of his party and the leaders who are working at the ground level in States. He has given space to leaders who were ministers during Vajpayee’s term, while simultaneously accommodating new faces in his Government. In all three Cabinet reshuffles, he has paid attention to this aspect as well. In Delhi, he gave space to several leaders who were lesser known even in their own States. When such leaders became ministers, journalists had to search them on Google!

And this time around, the PM has accommodated Dr Veerendra Kumar, who is a leader of Khatik community in MP, into his council of ministers. He has been an MP several times and works at the ground level. Before him, names of Prabhat Jha, Prahlad Patel, and Rakesh Singh — all established leaders of MP — were being debated. In the same manner, names of Shobha Karndlaje, Prahlad Joshi, and Suresh Angadi were being discussed, but the PM gave a chance to Anant Hegde. Modi also accommodated SP Shukla from UP and Gajendra Shekhwat from Rajasthan.

In the last reshuffle also, there were some surprising inclusions. Modi had given a chance to Dr Subhash Rao Bhamre from Maharashtra. In the same manner, not picking a high-profile leader from Karnataka, the PM chose Ramesh Jigajinagi. From UP, Krishna Raj was given an opportunity. The PM’s move was surprising when he chose Jaswant Singh Bhabhor from his own State, Gujarat. Lesser know Ajay Tamta from Uttarakhand, Sudharshan Bhagat from Jharkhand, and Chotu Ram Chudhary were also picked by Modi.



Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi have received some surprises because it seems that PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah wanted to strike a political balance. When Yogi took command of UP, some people alleged that he was anti-Brahmin. Now, the party has promoted two veteran Brahmin leaders of Poorvanchal. Firstly, MN Pandey was appointed president of UP BJP. An MP from Chandauli, he had been made a minister in the last reshuffle and has now been given charge of the State unit in place of KP Maurya.

Shiv Pratap Shukla’s entry into the Central Government could also have been a surprise for Yogi. When MN Pandey was removed from the council of ministers, Shukla was given a chance. He has been made MoS Finance.

In the same manner, after the reshuffle, Sushil Modi was also in for surprises. Giriraj Singh, who is said to be anti-Sushil, was already a minister, and now the other anti-Sushil leader, Ashwini Chaubey, has been made a minister. Not only this, Giriraj has also got a promotion. He was the deputy of Kalraj Mishra and now he is looking after the ministry independently. The other minister from Bihar, RK Singh, is also said to be an organisation basher in the State. So, there is speculation that there was no discussion over the name of ministers before the Cabinet reshuffle.




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