One Take | Will PM Modi Go for A Cabinet Reshuffle to Come Up Trumps in 2024, And Does He Need To?


Edited By: Pathikrit Sen Gupta

Last Updated: January 18, 2023, 08:00 IST

The jury is still out on whether the reshuffle by PM Modi, if and when it takes place, will have a message. (File pic/PTI)

The jury is still out on whether the reshuffle by PM Modi, if and when it takes place, will have a message. (File pic/PTI)

The BJP’s strategy and game plan for the Lok Sabha polls are very simple. It has to better Rajiv Gandhi’s 400-plus record

One Take

As you walk through the corridors of power, in the South Block where the Prime Minister sits, and the North Block which houses important ministries like home affairs, there is a nip and buzz in the air. It’s not just the winter chill but also the heat generated by speculation over a possible cabinet reshuffle. Will it happen? When? And who is likely to be dropped? Any interesting messages? But for me, the big question is – is there a need for a cabinet reshuffle at all?

Well, yes and no. No, because the PM is pretty much in control and hands-on, and the team in place has a clear brief on what it has to do. Yes, because there are some unrepresented, and some who have not performed up to the mark. But more importantly, the reshuffle just ahead of Lok Sabha polls– and one presumes that going by PM Modi’s style, who doesn’t go in for many reshuffles, could be the last before polls– is one in which strong people need to go to the organisation. The BJP’s strategy and game plan for 2024 is very simple. It has to better Rajiv Gandhi’s 400-plus record. The BJP wants to perform well in those states where it has yet to either open an account or wants to do better. Like in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha, among others. For this, it would need strong organisation people.

In 2012, Dr Manmohan Singh did the last big reshuffle of his team, inducting 22 ministers. The Congress hoped this would counter its sinking fortunes and the perception about UPA 2, and also placate the sulking leaders. The focus was on getting younger leaders, and performers like Jyotiraditya Scindia got an upgrade. In 2013, with the DMK leaving the UPA over the Sri Lanka issue, 8 more faces were brought in. An attempt to induct leaders from poll-bound states and an eye on Lok Sabha elections clearly did not work. In the end, the captain leads the perception, and the UPA 2 was so badly battered in image that no shuffling of packs could redeem the situation.

That’s why, the jury is still out on whether the reshuffle by PM Modi, if and when it takes place, will have a message. First, you have to perform to be a part of Team Modi. It’s highly unlikely that the top core team will be touched. But with the focus for 2024 being on social sector welfare, women, and the youth, it’s quite likely that in case of a reshuffle, these areas will be looked at. In fact, there are many crucial state elections also coming up. In case there is a change of guard in some of these states, like say in Madhya Pradesh, is there a possibility that there could be inductions and reductions at the central level?

Reshuffles rarely have an impact on the results of Lok Sabha and state polls. But getting the right people in the right place ensures that the message PM Modi wants to convey gets across. That’s the messaging of a reshuffle.

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