Responding to the reshuffle of the Union Cabinet, the Congress on Sunday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inducting a ‘senior citizens club’, alleging that the message being given out by the newly appointed cabinet is of ‘maximum government, but no governance’. Addressing a press conference here, Congress leader Manish Tewari alleged that Prime Minister Modi looked ‘disconnected’ from the process, while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah looked more like the Prime Minister in charge.
“What is strange is that Prime Minister Modi seemed disconnected, while Amit Shah looked like the Prime Minister. Looks like he has inducted a senior citizens club, as the average age of the nine new ministers is 60.44 in a country where the median age of is 27 years. The message he is trying to convey is unclear,” he said.
Commenting on Prime Minister Modi’s upcoming China visit, Tewari stated that it would be remiss of the former to not bring up the issue of terrorism being ‘exported’ from Pakistan at the BRICS summit.
“Terrorism being exported from Pakistan remains India’s fundamental concern. Pakistan’s oldest ally, the U.S.A., has publically named and shamed them as a promoter and protector of terrorists. At this stage, it would be remiss of the Prime Minister to not flag this issue at BRICS,” said Manish.
In a detailed criticism of the newly-inducted ministers, Manish claimed that the nine new entrants comprise of four former bureaucrats, one ‘doctor beater’ and four other inconsequential individuals. “Recently, a video surfaced of Anantkumar Hedge thrashing three doctors in a hospital in Karwar. He has been inducted by Prime Minister Modi. This shows that the inducement of the BJP’s strategy to communalise the situation in poll-bound Karnataka,” said Manish.
“On the other hand, he has dropped ministers like Bandaru Dattatreya and Kalraj Mishra, and promoted people like Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan,” he added, highlighting the irony. Tewari further branded the appointment of Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Nirmala Sitharaman as ‘mere tokenism’. After Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal were given responsibility of the defence and railway ministry respectively, Manish while congratulating them hoped the situation would not be handled like they handled their previous portfolios.
“Sitharaman as the commerce minister has not done anything substantial, and has been elevated for non-performance. Exports and imports in the recent past have gone through a crippling decline. Also, fuel prices have substantially gone up, in spite of crude oil prices being stagnant. However, I wish them good luck, hoping that they would not handle their present responsibilities like their past ones,” said Manish. Earlier, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad opined that the Cabinet reshuffle was not going to help the government in power, as their image was ‘already tarnished’.
“The government’s image has already tarnished. Whatever changes they make, it’s tough to rebuild the image. There is no on-ground development in the governance,” Azad told ANI. The Cabinet rejig saw the promotion of as many as four Ministers of State to the rank of Cabinet ministers. Union Minister Piyush Goyal has been given the charge of Railway Ministry. This came after Suresh Prabhu formally bade adieu to the ‘rail family’ on Twitter, earlier in the day. He has now been assigned the portfolio of the Minister of Commerce and Industry.
Goyal has also been declared as the Minister of Coal. He has been responsible in bringing about a turnaround in power production and delivered on the government’s plan to electrify villages. Nirmala Sitharaman has been assigned the charge of the Defence Ministry, becoming only the second woman to hold the post since late Indira Gandhi.