TODAY -

Striking regional balance : Two from the North East
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: June 01 2019 -



First among equals and it remains that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be as good as the support and inputs he receives from his Council of Ministers.

Twenty four Cabinet Ministers, excluding himself, nine Ministers of State with independent charge and twenty four Ministers of State are in the Council of Ministers and in many ways the efficacy or incompetency of the Government will depend on how they work with the Prime Minister.

A look at the profiles of the Ministers says that the Prime Minister has kept a look at the past with his vision fixed to the future so that the BJP Government is not a two term wonder.

Out of the 58 in the Council of Ministers, 20 are first timers and this should more than say that this is the Prime Minister delivering a message that he is looking at the next five years to groom those with potential.

Significant to note too that the Prime Minister has again picked men and women from the first term, with Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani among them, thereby delivering the point that while looking to the future, he is not forgetting the past but taking the past with the present so that all can look forward to the future.

A nice blend, if one may add.

What however takes the cake or was the surprise element was the decision of the Prime Minister to induct former Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in the Cabinet as the Minister of External Affairs, thereby demonstrating that he is more at ease in inducting an experienced personality in the crucial External Affairs Ministry.

That Jaishankar is known to be an old hand on China and other neighbouring countries can go some way in boosting India's presence in the region.

A good blend of the experienced and the novice, but the sentiments in the North East could be a little different.

Regional balance may have been struck, with the Prime Minister keeping a focus on States where the BJP did well as well as on the upcoming Assembly elections in some States.

Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand are set to go to polls later and Modi has been sensitive enough to this reality to give 11 Ministerial berths to these three States. Likewise, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand where the BJP returned with 100 percent results are well represented in the Union Council of Ministers.

This story however does not seem to have carried to the case of the North East States, as some from the region have pointed out.

The BJP saw an upsurge in its popularity in the region, grabbing power in Assam, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh after 2014.

Moreover it is in partnership with the Government in Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya.

On top of this the 2019 Lok Sabha elections saw the BJP vastly improving on its performance to see its tally surge from the 8 in 2014 to 14 in 2019.

Yet no representation in the Cabinet and only two in the Council of Ministers in the person of Kiren Rijiju who has been made MoS (Independent charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports and Rameswar Teli of Assam as a MoS.

Maybe not big in terms of the number of MPs sent to the Lok Sabha but remember the North East region is a collection of eight States, including Sikkim, and only two in the Ministry may need a relook.



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