Though he kept himself out of the rat race but elevated some of his young turks such as Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Deepa Dasmunshi and several others. It is certainly a step in the right direction. But this rejig has thrown some surprises as well. As we go through the list of ministers who have taken oath, we find that for some of the names one can say that nothing succeeds like failure. The foremost name that comes in mind is Pawan Bansal who has got one of the most important portfolios like railways despite performing unsatisfactorily as the Parliamentary Affairs Minister.
Next in the line is Salman Khurshid who, however, doesn’t have a bad reputation when it comes to managing the realm of his Law Ministry; but he too had his share of controversy when his Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, run by his wife, came under the scanner due to some serious financial irregularities. Fortunately, he has been able to get away with the hullabaloo so far as the high command seemed to ignore the graft charges and promoted him as the External Affairs Minister.
But at the same time there are names which truly deserve the reward they have received. A performer like Ajay Maken has proved his mettle as a Sports Minister and thus elevated. Others like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot have also given the glimpse of their leadership skills in the limited scope they got as junior ministers and so they have also gained in the current cabinet shake-up.
Now, the biggest question looming is whether the change of faces in the Cabinet will be enough to boost the government’s image in the eyes of the people. At this juncture, when this government is 17-month away from completing its term, there are three critical aspects that will decide the effectiveness of this cabinet reshuffle.
Firstly, while focusing too much on who heads which portfolio we forget in the process that the secretaries and officials in different ministries remain the same and their structural order by and large doesn’t get changed with the reshuffle in the cabinet. Many who come at the top as a minister, seldom make a big difference as he or she has to seek advice from secretaries, known to be subjective experts on matters.
Unless a particular minister is too comfortable with his or her portfolio and pursues decisions aggressively without being relied too much on subordinates, there remains a distant chance of a new policy formulation and way of functioning. To discontinue this trend, officials serving in different ministries as top-level secretaries and who have redefined IAS as ‘I AM SAFE’ from the actual name Indian Administrative Service, need to shun the lackluster attitude of ‘Chalta Hai’. These officials are the backbone of ministries and they only give the ultimate shape to the critical policies taken by the ministries.
The second thing which is to be seen in the due course of time is whether the new faces and the older ones, who have been entrusted with new responsibilities, are aggressive enough and dare to disturb the parochial approaches adopted by their predecessors.
The last and the most important is how Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reacts to the reshuffle. After all, he is the captain of the ship. It will be his leadership responsible for giving a new direction to this UPA-II government. So, we as citizens have no other options other than keeping fingers crossed and see whether the prime minister changes his style of functioning.