The cabinet expansion of the Narendra Modi government has finally happened. And there have been intense speculation as to whether the exercise has been done with an eye on the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh elections. There are also theories that the bringing in of Dalits is aimed at placating the marginalised community which was angered by the government's handling of Rohit Vemula issue.
It may not able to pin point what exactly is the reason behind the expansion. Probably it is all of these. However, one thing is sure, while picking up the suitable candidates for a ministerial berth, what the prime minister has looked at very closely is their performance in Parliament.
“The expansion comes after an exhaustive vetting and selection process to find the best talent. People were assessed on the value they would bring to the Union council of ministers,” an official has been quoted as saying in this report in the Financial Times.
As per the government's press release, of the new inductees, 15 have past legislative experience in Parliament and state legislatures, with 10 of them having served in Central and state governments as ministers and officials.
Also nine are post-graduates and seven law graduates, including two business graduates and a doctor.
Apart from these, most of them have fared well in Parliament in the last two years. Data sourced from PRS Legislative shows that of the 19 new ministers, 12 have more than 90 percent attendance.
Among them, PP Chaudhary, the BJP MP from Pali, Rajasthan, is the top performer. He has 98 percent attendance, participated in 358 debates, asked 394 questions and moved 18 private member bills in the last two years. The national average for all these parameters are 82 percent, 35, 135 and 0.7.
Closely behind him is Arjun Ram Meghwal, BJP MP from Bikaner, Rajasthan, whose attendance level is 98 percent. He has participated in 92 debates, asked 336 questions and moved 16 private member bills.
Check out how others performed in Parliament in the tables below (PRS Legislative).
With inputs from Kishor Kadam