Ministers In, Suspense Remains
New ministers in, but suspense increases: Jaitley leaves on Defence trip in a few minutes, Sushma to go to Russia as Foreign Minister in 48 hours!
- PT Bureau
New ministers in, but suspense increases: Jaitley leaves on Defence trip in a few minutes, Sushma to go to Russia as Foreign Minister in 48 hours!



NEW DELHI, Sep 3: As nine new ministers took oath at the Rashtrapati Bhawan this morning, suspense continues as speculation remains rife about portfolios and the fate of some heavyweights like Sushma Swaraj and Suresh Prabhu.

That is because many questions will be answered only when the list of portfolios is announced.

Here are the burning questions in the air, even as the new ministers emerge the cynosure of the media’s eyes:

1. If Puri is made Foreign Minister, will Sushma Swaraj be edged out of the Cabinet or will she be made the Defence Minister? Swaraj, it is now clear, had been reduced to an NRI troubles minister, while foreign ministry was being run by the PM and NSA Ajit Doval.
 
2. Will Arun Jaitley continue to hold Defence? He is leaving on a three-day Defence related trip to Japan a few minutes after the swearing in. That has left many perplexed.
 
3. If Sushma Swaraj loses External Affairs Minister, what happens to her trip to Russia which is just 48 hours away?
Swaraj was to travel with Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to Russia for the third Eastern Economic Forum in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.
 
4. Will Suresh Prabhu be a victim of a spree of railway accidents? 

5. Piyush Goel has been promoted to the Cabinet rank. Will he take over Indian Railways?

6. Will Smriti Irani continue to be the I&B Minister, which will confirm her pre-eminent position, or will she lose the high-profile job?

7. Will Ravi Shanker Prasad get a new portfolio? Ditto for JP Nadda? Remember, Himachal Pradesh election is approaching fast.

8. Uma Bharti was asked to resign. Then she met Amit Shah. She did not resign. So how did she convince the party and the PM? Will her portfolio be changed? 

The biggest question, however, remains if political promotions/demotions have now really started happening on the basis of performance reports? That is a question political pundits are likely to debate for a long time.

Given the state of the economy, PM Narendra Modi has been successful in shifting the focus from criticism of sliding growth, the damage that demonetisation wreaked, the failure to create jobs and many other economic negatives. 
 
It is remarkable that in any performance audit of the Union ministry, there is no message about the performance of the Finance Minister/Ministry. In his defence, Arun Jaitley may have argued he was never a part of the demonetisation decision and merely went along.
 
But isn’t one message being sent out clearly even now? That all ministries are being run by the PMO and that man called Mr Amit Shah?

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