BJP’s spin doctors have been trying to push his latest Cabinet reshuffle as an instance of Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Perform or Perish’ mantra. The reality is that the Cabinet reshuffle is Modi’s way of trying to shirk responsibility for his Government’s abject failure to keep his promises even after three years.
The most glaring failure of the Modi Government has been on the employment front: with job growth in 8 key sectors at their lowest level in 8 years. The Skill India program launched in 2015 made tall claims which were found to be a sham by the Government’s own committee headed by Sharda Prasad. The committee report found the scheme to be a “hotbed of crony capitalism”, with the private “skill councils” siphoning off public funds while lacking even basic infrastructure to provide training, and making fraudulent claims of enrolment. By dropping Rajiv Pratap Rudy as Skill Development Minister, the Government is trying to protect the PM himself for accountability for the Skill India sham/scam. It is notable that Modi’s admirers try to credit him even with Court verdicts like the Instant Triple Talaq verdict – yet they assign no blame to him for his Government’s failures, even though it is well known that extreme centralization of all power in the PMO is a hallmark of Modi’s governance model.
In the wake of demonetization and GST, the GDP growth rate has slumped to 5.7%, and crores of jobs in the unorganized sector were lost due to demonetization. Who but Narendra Modi himself can bear the burden of blame for these disastrous decisions?
Another glaring failure is on the agriculture front – with the Modi and Shivraj Governments colluding to shoot dead farmers who were reminding them of Modi’s own promises to increase MSP and waive loans. But the Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan – notorious for blaming farmer’ suicides on love affairs and impotency and for advising protesting farmers to do Yoga – has kept his job. This is probably because the Modi Government is unwilling to concede their failure to address farmers’ distress.
What is the record of the new inductees in the Modi Cabinet? Satyapal Singh, MP from Bagpat, had blamed rapes in Mumbai on “promiscuous culture” and offered moral policing on couples as the solution, when he was the Commissioner of Police in 2013. Satyapal Singh was also a public devotee of the rapist Ram Rahim and notorious for dismissing the Dadri lynching as a “small incident.” A BJP Karnataka MP Anant Kumr Hegde appointed as Minister of State for Skill Development, has qualified for the job with his “skill” in tweeting obnoxious sexist and communal tweets targeting JNU women, as well as Islam, Buddhism and Christianity.
A section of the media is trying to project Modi’s choice of Nirmala Sitharaman as the first woman Defence Minister after Indira Gandhi as a boost in the arm for India’s women. The fact is that the Modi Cabinet is replete with Ministers who trivialize violence against women. Modi himself publicly praised a rape-accused Dera head in exchange for votes. BJP MPs like Sakshi Maharaj and Subramanian Swamy publicly accuse victims of Asaram and Ram Rahim of being liars. Emboldened by BJP Governments, Sangh outfits all over the country are unleashing organized violence against inter-faith relationships. The Modi Government is offering regressive arguments in Court to defend its refusal to criminalise marital rape. Ms Sitharaman is a JNU alumnus – her party colleagues compete with each other to utter vile sexist slurs against JNU women students and teachers. Ms Sitharaman remained silent on all the violence by her colleagues against women; and she defended Yogi Adityanath’s crackdown on slaughter houses by making the absurd and communal claim that the freedom movement was inspired by cow protectionism.
The fact the JDU was not accommodated in the Cabinet reshuffle underlines the loss of stature of the party and of Nitish Kumar as a result of his betrayal of the Bihar mandate to make an opportunist alliance with the BJP.
Modi’s Cabinet reshuffle cannot shield him and his Government from the growing sense of disillusionment and anger among people. It is time to hold the Government accountable for its broken promises and its crimes against people.