The government changed the notification concerning the composition of major cabinet panels to accomodate defence minister Rajnath Singh in the cabinet committees on political and parliamentary affairs and the ones formed on Wednesday to foster investment and employment.
As per the original notification issued early in the morning, the defence minister figured in just two panels, albeit crucial ones — cabinet committees on security and economic affairs. In contrast, BJP chief and home minister Amit Shah featured on all eight panels: something which served as yet another proof of his status as No. 2 in the saffron establishment. The composition was changed late in the evening.
Singh’s exclusion from the cabinet committee on political affairs (CCPA) immediately became a topic of intense discussion in political circles, given that he twice served as BJP chief as well as CM of Uttar Pradesh. In the last government, he was part of the cabinet committees on both political and parliamentary affairs. Another former BJP chief, transport and MSME minister Nitin Gadkari, is part of the CCPA. The panel on political affairs is an administrative improvisation whose composition is decided by the PM.
Shah is a member of the panels on political affairs, parliamentary affairs, as well as those on accommodation and appointments. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman comes next with membership of seven bodies. After the revision, Singh comes next with seats on six committees.
The CCPA, headed by the PM, includes Shah, Sitharaman, Gadkari, consumer affairs minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, law and communications minister R S Prasad, commerce and railway minister Piyush Goyal, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, health minister Harsh Vardhan, parliamentary affairs minster Pralhad Joshi food processing minister and Akali MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal and heavy industries minister Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena) are other members of the CCPA.
The cabinet committee on economic affairs, led by the PM, will have Rajnath Singh, Shah, Gadkari, foreign minister S Jaishankar, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, chemicals and fertilisers minister D V Sadananda Gowda, Goyal, Sitharaman, Tomar, Prasad and Badal as its members. Shah’s inclusion in all the committees is in keeping with his new status as the virtual deputy to PM Modi. The BJP chief had on Tuesday chaired an informal meeting of several cabinet ministers, including Jaishankar, Sitharaman, Goyal and Pradhan to discuss issues related to sourcing of crude from Mozambique.