To reinvigorate stalled economic reforms and appease critics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may overhaul his Cabinet to weed out underperformers and improve the image of his government.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who has failed to push through a major tax reform and critics have faulted his stewardship over Indian economy, may move to defence after he delivers his annual budget in late February.
According to Reports, moving Jaitley to defence, a post he also held in the early months of the Modi government, could better suit him and keep the strategically important portfolio in trusted hands.
While Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal may be moved to the finance portfolio, underperformers in other minor posts may be weeded out.
Reports say that Goyal was recently groomed for his next big role and a white paper on banking was recently shared with him to seek his inputs. Goyal, a good communicator, has often travelled abroad with the Prime Minister.
As a Power Minister, Goyal turned around state-run Coal India, tackled chronic power shortages and backed renewable sources of energy. “Goyal is doing a fine job – he has brought a lot of energy to the coal and power sector,” said Rajiv Kumar, senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi.
“But I’m not sure he can do justice to the complex finance portfolio,” he said, adding that ‘Goyal, with his micro orientation, might struggle to get to grips with multi-dimensional and serious macroeconomic issues facing the country’.
Earlier this month, after BJP’s humiliating defeat in Bihar Assembly polls last year, reports have emerged that Modi wanted to rejig his Cabinet but he couldn’t find right candidates who can deliver fast-paced reforms and policies in their work sphere.
PM Modi to review progress of Cabinet decisions on Jan 27
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has called a meeting of his Council of Ministers, including all Ministers of State, on January 27 to review the progress made on important Cabinet decisions.
The Prime Minister wants to expedite the schemes so that schemes designed for the rural poor, especially farm labourers and agricultural workers, can benefit them. He will examine how ministries are implementing over 20 key decisions taken with regard to agriculture, rural development projects and others.
Each ministry is preparing a list of its achievements and will make a short presentation to apprise the Prime Minister.
This will be the first major review exercise in 18 months since he assumed office. Before this, the Prime Minister had on December 17 last year chaired the meeting of Council of Minister when he had asked his ministers to spread the message about the Central government’s achievements.