The Narendra Modi-led government has reconstituted six Cabinet committees and formed two new committees. Two aspects are noteworthy about these committees. Firstly, Amit Shah is a member of all the committees, and secondly, Rajnath Singh is a member of only two committees.
Home minister Shah was named as a member of the two new committees — Investment and Growth, and Employment and Skill Development. The six reconstituted committees, which also have Shah as a member, are: Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, Cabinet Committee on Accommodation, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs and Cabinet Committee on Security. Modi heads six of the eight committees, while Shah heads two of them —the panel on Accommodation, and the one of Parliamentary Affairs.
In contrast, Rajnath Singh, Shah's predecessor in the home ministry and the current defence minister, is only a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. In the panel on security, all the ministers who occupy offices at Raisina Hill on the North and South Block — including the home minister, defence minister, finance minister and external affairs minister, are ex-officio members. Singh may have been been named as a member in the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs because the Modi government has been placing emphasis on private sector participation in defence production and Make in India, and there are several PSUs under the ministry.
Singh is neither part of the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs nor the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs. His omission from the panels is particularly striking because he has had high standing in the organisational structure of the party. He has been the president of the BJP's Uttar Pradesh unit, Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Union minister for agriculture and surface transport in the Vajpayee government, national president of the BJP from 2005-09 and 2013-14, Union home minister in the Modi government 1.0, and is now defence minister in the Modi government 2.0. He is seen as a leader of standing and grace, and has healthy relations with all NDA allies and leaders in Opposition parties. Due to his image as non-confrontational leader, some allies and Opposition leaders find it easier to have a dialogue with him.
Contrast the present position of Singh with the one he held in the previous government. In the first Modi-led government, he was part of all Cabinet Committees that were constituted in June 2014, or afterwards. In fact, in the early days of the first Modi-led government, he even chaired the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs.
In 2014, while Singh, as home minister, was part of all eight committees, the then defence minister Arun Jaitley was part of Cabinet Committee on Accommodation, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, and Cabinet Committee on Security. However, an important point to be noted here is that Jaitley was also the finance minister at that time, due to which is unclear whether he was part of these committees in the capacity of finance minister or defence minister.
However, on 28 November, 2014, when changes were made in the Cabinet Committees following the appointment of Manohar Parrikar as defence minister, Parrikar was made a member of the Committee on Political Affairs.
This time, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is part of all cabinet committees, except the Cabinet Committee on Appointment. Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari is another minister who is part of most committees. He has only been kept out of the Cabinet Committee on Appointment, Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs and Cabinet Committee on Security.
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Updated Date: Jun 06, 2019 17:13:44 IST