Cabinet reshuffle: Stars and the tripe
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In September 1949, when Rajendra Prasad, the President of the Constituent Assembly, objected to January 26, 1950, as the date for inaugurating the Republic on astrological grounds, Jawaharlal Nehru gave a stinging reply: "I am afraid I have no faith in astrology and certainly I should not like to fix up national programmes in accordance with the dictates of astrologers.." (Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography by Sarvepalli Gopal).
Nor would Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — if he could help it. Be it as it may, whether Cabinet reshuffle was postponed due to the onset of shradh period or whether it was used to defer it, governance has been the one casualty.
Ministers are now sitting on decisions, either because they fear the axe, anticipate a change in portfolio, or are clueless about their fate. Even the moribund bureaucracy was just beginning to respond to the new urgency in the words and actions of the PM when the shradh set in. Crucial sectors like Power and Railways, meanwhile, continue to be held as additional charges by ministers.
It is nobody's case why a full-fledged Cabinet revamp was not carried out before the Monsoon Session or after it, and why reshuffles cannot be carried out in parts as done in the case of P Chidambaram and Sushil Kumar Shinde. Congress strategists will tell you how difficult it is to accommodate the demands of allies, to drop non-performing assets with apparent loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family, to address competing interests etc. With Rahul Gandhi evincing interest in the Cabinet rejig, the process has only got more complicated.
However, whatever be the compulsions, should governance come to a halt? The PM and Sonia Gandhi should go in for a reshuffle and leave it to individuals to take or not to take oath during shradh. It would be interesting to see who are the believers.
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