Monday, 8 August, 2022
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Modi’s one move showed Rajnath Singh’s 44 years of politics can become ineffective in a day

Rajnath Singh’s initial exclusion from six of eight cabinet committees of Modi government was not happenstance. It was a strong message.

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In his 44 years in politics, defence minister Rajnath Singh must have been witness to many political skulduggeries. But Singh would have never imagined being at the receiving end of such machinations at this point in his career when his political credentials and seniority in the Bharatiya Janata Party – and within the government – would appear to be truly well established.

Early morning Thursday, Rajnath Singh knew he had been wronged when the Narendra Modi government put out its order announcing the new members of eight cabinet committees – the final decision-making body on matters related to parliamentary affairs, politics, investment, employment, economy, security, appointment, and accommodation. Rajnath Singh had been left out of the first four and was included, as No 2 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, only in two committees – economy and security.

Rajnath Singh, as per protocol, is the senior-most minister in the government after PM Modi. He was the second minister to take oath after the prime minister, and was also seated next to Modi at the ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. But the order Thursday morning gave away the sense that Rajnath Singh’s position and command under Modi’s rule may have been further reduced.

Also read: As Modi reconstitutes cabinet committees, here’s what they are & their role in governance

The sidelining of Rajnath Singh

As home minister, Rajnath Singh headed the cabinet committees on accommodation and parliamentary affairs, and was a member of the remaining four (investment and employment are the two new committees that have been included in Modi’s second cabinet). After the order created a lot of brouhahas all through the day Thursday, the Modi government amended it late at night and came out with a revised order with Rajnath Singh as member of six committees and as head of one of them – parliamentary affairs.

Rajnath Singh’s initial exclusion from six of the eight committees while not being the head of any of them, including the parliamentary affairs which he did during Modi’s first term, was not happenstance. It was a strong message to one of the most seasoned politicians for the BJP from the Hindi heartland: don’t expect an overarching role in the government that Arun Jaitley enjoyed in the last five years and which has been passed on for the next five to BJP president Amit Shah – who is part of all the eight cabinet committees.

Also read: Why Rajnath Singh emerged as No. 3 after Modi & Shah for BJP’s election campaign

Before the swearing-in, there were speculations that Rajnath Singh might be dropped from the cabinet altogether and instead made the speaker of Lok Sabha. In terms of holding command, Rajnath Singh’s previous tenure wasn’t that powerful either. Although he was the home minister, the portfolio had largely been turned into a ceremonial post, with Modi relying on Jaitley for all governance-related matters and on Amit Shah for those that concerned the party.

In the second term, with Jaitley deciding to sit out of the government owing to his health concerns, the power has narrowed down into the hands of Modi and Amit Shah. The informal arrangement has been made formal now. With Amit Shah also continuing in the role of BJP’s president, for the time being, his and Modi’s control in the government and the BJP is complete.

Absence of a warm equation in Modi era

Rajnath Singh started his political innings in 1975 when he was appointed the district president of Jana Sangh. He was chief minister of Uttar Pradesh from 2000 to 2002, and twice held the post of president in the BJP.

During Modi’s first term, Rajnath Singh found himself battling political intrigues one after another. Soon after the government was formed in 2014, rumours began doing the rounds that Singh’s son Pankaj was indulging in misconduct and had been pulled up by Modi. At the time, Rajnath Singh had threatened to resign.

The BJP had to issue a statement denying the charges as baseless rumours.

Also read: Rajnath Singh should know a sloppy salute is worse than not saluting. It shows disrespect

Then, later on, Rajnath Singh was one of the several ministers in the government whose decisions to appoint personal secretaries of their choice were put on hold by PM Modi’s office.

For the next five years, the Modi-Shah duo has also formalised the generational change in the BJP by giving junior ministers like Nirmal Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan important responsibilities in the cabinet committees.

Although the years don’t look very promising, Rajnath Singh, now the defence minister, remains one of the few leaders from the Vajpayee-Advani era who continues to hold a top position in the Modi government.

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  1. Bjp does not belong to Gujarat or any particular state, certainly there is fear in bjp about BJP run from UP, REMEMBER ONE THING, WITHOUT UP THERE IS NO BJP, IT DOES MATTER, IT WILL AND IT HAS

  2. Seniority vs merit. Modi chooses people based on merit and strategy, and not on basis of seniority . The author’s analysis is biased and malicious.

  3. “showed” or TRIED to show? If Modi and Shah were so confident of their move against Rajnath Singh, why did they take it back by the evening? Truth is that these two gentlemen from Gujarat have hijacked the BJP and are trying to impose their non-tolerant-against-muslims agenda on the entire party. Maybe there are members within the party who are resentful of Modi and Shah for this and many other reasons, and Modi and Shah thought that some sort of a REVOLT may precipitate if they tried to sideline a senior leader like Rajnath Singh. Whatever the BJP stands for in its Gujarat model may be unpalatable to many of its traditional supporters as well.

  4. On the second thought; Shekhar Gupta (the Congressman posing as media man) should stop being jealeous of Rajnath Singh’s capability to defeat Congress and make Hindi heartland public in general follow BJP. Shekhar Gupta’s grudge against VK Singh and Rajnath make him blind in reporting the news matter honestly, and instead he gives wrong and baised views. Rajnath is a humble, down to earth and honest politician. And honesty is the major problem for baised media men like Shekhar Gupta and his baised loudspeaker ” The Print”. Media house first principle is required to be honesty and not bais.

  5. Prof PK Sharma. Freelance Journalist ,Barnala (Punjab)

    What a pity !

    Mr.Rajnath Singh should have shown some moral guts and courage too !

    Has he ironically not fallen from grace turning out to be His Master Modi’s Voice (HMMV) in the evening of his political innings ?

    Having graced the office of National BJP Chief twice, Union Home Minister and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister why did not he very
    politely and tactfully decline these offers to redeem his prestige and dignity ?

    After depriving him of vital Home Ministry, he was belittled politically by including him in just two cabinet committees !

    He should bear in mind, even now this late thursday night amendment too has failed to restore his honour in comparison
    to Mr.Amit Shah Union Home Minister and Mrs.Nirmala Sitharaman Union Finance Minister !

    Sulking times and moments for the new Defence Minister indeed !

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist,
    Pom Anm Nest ,Barnala (Punjab)

  6. Rajnath is one of the main reason Hindi heartland votes for BJP. Modi-Shah duo can be great organisers from Gujarat but cannot gain that affinity to garner votes without help of Rajnath in UP/Bihar/MP/Chattisgarh & Rajasthan. Remember in 2016 Bihar assembly elections JD(U) & RJD defeated BJP even though major tour was done by respected PM. Bottom line to be in power you need to win public elections and Rajnath makes that happen. Remove him and SP gains the vote bank back in UP.

  7. Dear media
    Do your job honestly and do not try to poke your nose in the internal matters of the party, whether it’s BJP or Congress.

  8. People remember Margaret Thatcher for free market capitalism. People remember Sanjay Gandhi for forced sterilization. There is nothing to remember about Rajnath Singh. As home minster, he didn’t improve police, law and order, Kashmir mess continues. Didn’t bomb left wing extremism. His presence or absence doesn’t make a difference. He is just a old world minister for status quo.

  9. Not sure how much of this story is source based and how much is lazy speculation. But one thing is for sure that people should learn to leave and retire with grace. They should know when their time is up and give up on their own rather than being asked to do so. Please don’t forget that Rajnath Singh did not particularly distinguish himself as the home minister.

  10. Rajnath Singh is a goody goody non performing minister. He has been retained to avoid media bashing otherwise ideally he should have been dropped from cabinet. Being timid and indecisive, as defence minister he may do more harm than good to armed forces.

  11. The analysis seems summary. The first question that arises is this: will this new government lead to a metamorphosis of the Head of Government? Are we going to witness the emergence of a new avatar of the PM, who has the support of his majority, and can finally be himself? The other question, which is more complex, is related to the underlying reasons that led AJ to refuse to participate in this government? Implicitly a team AJ, the current Ministry of the Interior, and the current MOD holder, excellent on paper, was it sustainable? Finally, another sensitive issue, does the composition of this government announces a new leadership for 2024

  12. Politics one does not understand. However, Shri Rajnath Singhji is a man with old world charm and manners that will never go out of style. He is conscious of the honour of representing what was once Vajpayeeji’s constituency. Reached out to Lucknow’s Muslims, although he knew they would not be voting for him.

  13. Yawn. And what now….if the Print does not get more eyeballs for this non-story, will this writer and co-hacks then go on a candlelight vigil.
    Go on, Print….write about REAL stuff. Meantime, enjoy the world cup cricket.

  14. Once Amit Shah settles down in next two years, Rajnath will find himself less relevant. Under Modi, only capabilities and efficiency matter and nobody is a regional or vote bank leader. To that extent, Modi has changed the structure of BJP politics as well. If Rajnath is found not delivering in defence, his days are numbered. On the other hand, a young and dynamic team is taking over and this is not a mean achievement for BJP and Modi. If it fails to deliver, voters will throw them out. This is a good change in Indian politics.

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