Friday, December 1, 2023

Will Dec 21 be a trailer before cabinet reshufflle?

New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) This coming Saturday, just four days before the Christmas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in a very serious huddle at Delhi’s newly inaugurated new Gujarat Bhawan with his entire gamut of Ministers.

This meeting may decide the fate of how many will stay in the next cabinet reshuffle, that is tipped to be anytime early next year.

Sources say, not just Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State with Independent charges and MoS — who form the council of minister, will be there but secretaries of some of the key ministries will also be present.

The secretaries are likely to give a PowerPoint presentation to the Prime Minister on progress on some of Modi’s pet projects like ‘Ujwala Yojna’, Jal Jeevan Mission, Startup India, Stand up India among others.

This meeting on December 21 will be the last Council of Ministers this year. But government sources say, this will be something more than just that. It will be a review of performance.

“Some ministers have been very irregular to their ministries. The PMO has already made concise ministry wise report cards and the PM is aware of the fact. They are very unlikely to make the cut in next reshuffle,” said a government source.

However, he was quick to add: “But there are also MPs holding less important ministries like one Bihar MP who has been very regular and their ministries have made considerable strides. They will definitely stay put and may get meatier portfolios to handle.”

The meeting on Saturday, will start at 11 a.m. and will continue beyond lunch. There are different sessions to this council of minister, said another source.

One project that Modi is keen to review is Jal Jeevan Mission, added the source. The ambitious mission aims to give tap water supply to every household in India by 2024.

Such important is this scheme to the Prime Minister, that Modi mentioned it in his 2019 Independence Day speech.

According to the NITI Aayog’s Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) 2018, 21 Indian cities could face Day Zero in the coming years. Day Zero is when any area will have no water of its own. The Prime Minister wants a practical solution before the next summer comes and the Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat may have a lot of answering to do on Saturday.

Another Ministry which may be questioned can be the Finance Ministry.

With Moody’s slashing India GDP forecast to 4.9 per cent for FY20 citing weak consumption and large-scale reported job losses, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is under pressure.

Piyush Goyal’s Commerce Ministry is also likely to be quizzed for one key project that can solve much of India’s job concern — Startup India that comes under it.

As recent as this November, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) had proposed cut in compliance time to ease regulatory mechanism. This, the DPIIT hopes would woo back many startups who have become frustrated with Indian red tapes.

Will December 21 decide who will stay in or hold on to their portfolios when Narendra Modi goes for the next cabinet reshuffle? How hard the PM grills or which secretary is given more importance than the concerned minister may give a trailer on what’s to come.

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