Modi, Shah and Nadda are working on a strategy to boost the BJP and the government's image, reports R Rajagopalan.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's top trio of Narendra Damodardas Modi-Amit Anilchandra Shah-Jagat Prakash Nadda has been quietly working out a five-point mega strategy to boost the BJP's image as well as that of the government.
The buzz in New Delhi is that Modi is keen to give a facelift to his ministry before the Union Budget's presentation on February 1.
The 5-point programme includes a reshuffle of the Union council of ministers in November; inducting new faces in the BJP's Central Parliamentary Board; bringing in new allies to replace the ones who left; derail Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's proposals; and, strengthen the BJP organisation to focus on the six southern states in time for the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the idea being to win at least 25 ro 30 MPs from the region to compensate the possible loss in the Hindi heartland.
Two rounds of secret meetings have already been held with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leaders in New Delhi to finalise the future course of action.
Since the Modi government has been in power in Centre for nearly seven years and fast approaching the middle of its second term, the leadership is keen on an image booster by way of inducting new young faces in the BJP and also in the Union government.
Cabinet reshuffle in November?
Modi and Shah are hammering out a major reshuffle of the Union council of ministers which might happen any time after the Bihar election results on November 10.
Modi is very glad to have Shah back in action. Even when Shah was down with coronavirus, the two leaders did not stop discussing strategies.
At the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, after Shah was admitted for treatment, a special RAX telephone line monitored by the Intelligence Bureau was installed so that the prime minister and home minister could discuss political issues.
Who is likely to be inducted?
A list of 20 new faces has been drawn up, of who the prime minister will induct 10 to 15 out to fill some 14 ministerial vacancies.
Many senior ministers are currently burdened with multiple portfolios since the deaths of senior BJP leaders and ministers Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Manohar Parrikkar, Ananth Kumar, Gopinath Munde and Ram Vilas Paswan.
Will Yogi Adityanath, Nitish Kumar and Devendra Fadnavis be brought to the Centre?
Yes, but not immediately. It may be the longer term policy to bring seniors to Delhi to boost the government's image.
The talk is that Modi is timing it just before the Uttar Pradesh assembly election in March 2022.
But why is Nitish Kumar being brought to the Centre? The argument is that the Bihar chief minister faces anti-incumbency, with Biharis suffering fatigue over having him at the helm of the state for 15 years.
What made Modi harden his stand?
After the 2014 slogan of 'Congress Mukt Bharat' regional parties seem to have developed an anti-BJP stance beginning with the Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal which were its oldest allies. This week, Bimal Gurung's Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in West Bengal walked out of the NDA.
The BJP fears that this will affect its chances in the 2024 Lok Sabha poll and alternative plans are being drawn up to minimise the fallout. On Modi's agenda is to rope in even splinter groups of the Congress.
Which was why last week Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister and YSR Congress leader, met with BJP leaders in New Delhi.
However, what would be the BJP's attitude towards the AIADMK, in power in Tamil Nadu, against the backdrop of superstar Rajinikanth's impending entry into politics, remains to be seen.
Planning 3 years ahead of Election 2024
Having fulfilled all the BJP's core promises like the Ram Mandir, Article 370 abrogation and scrapping instant triple talaq, the ruling party has no controversial political issues on its agenda.
While the contentious issue of Uniform Civil Code remains, in order to circumvent it, Modi had announced that the government is keen to raise the marriageable age of girls from 18 to 21. Some in the BJP feel that raising this age solves a major social problem, obviating the need for the UCC.
Is RSS upset with Modi?
In a way the answer is, yes. The RSS leadership wanted Modi to remain with the Shiv Sena, but Modi stood his ground, pushing Uddhav Thackeray into the Sharad Pawar camp.
But the RSS feels that there is a likelihood of the Maharashtra government's downfall due to internal contradictions, and has adopted a wait and watch policy.