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The New Indian Cabinet, What Lies Ahead For Modi In His Third Innings

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With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new Council of Ministers, a blend of continuity and experience seems to be the guiding principle. Instead of opting for a radical shift, Modi has retained key figures from his previous government.

The familiar faces of Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, S. Jaishankar, and Nirmala Sitharaman will continue to play pivotal roles. BJP President JP Nadda also secures a spot in the new government, alongside seasoned leaders like Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

However, notable omissions include former Cabinet Ministers Anurag Singh Thakur, Smriti Irani, and RK Singh, who have been dropped from the new line-up.

In a surprising move, Congress defector Ravneet Singh Bittu, despite losing the elections from Ludhiana, has been included in the ministry.

Balancing state representation and accommodating key allies like TDP, JDU, LJP, and RLD, Modi’s new Council reflects a strategic blend of regional and political considerations. However, not all allies are content. The NCP, notably, has refused to accept the Council of Ministers, reportedly due to Praful Patel being offered only a Minister of State (Independent charge), a downgrade from his previous Cabinet position.

The new government also features a host of former chief Ministers, including Rajnath Singh, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, HD Kumaraswamy, Jitin Ram Manjhi, Manohar Lal Khattar, and Sarbananda Sonowal, bringing a wealth of leadership experience to Modi’s administration.

How Will the New NDA Government Be Different?

Foreign Policy
While foreign policy is expected to remain largely bipartisan, don’t anticipate any radical shifts. The US-India relations are likely to strengthen further, with broadening ties with Russia and the Arab World. There will be increased pressure to address consular issues and work visas for Indian IT professionals. The government may adopt a less strident stance on Israel while facing greater pressure to act on Chinese incursions. Overall, there will be lesser elbow room in foreign policy manoeuvre.

Economy
The growth agenda will continue to be a priority, but there will be a focus on new economic centres such as Amravati, Vijayawada, and Patna. This signals a push towards regional development and spreading economic benefits more evenly across the country.

Populist Welfare Schemes
Expect a greater emphasis on populist welfare schemes, with special status being accorded to certain states. This could involve increased financial assistance and development programmes aimed at boosting local economies and improving living standards.

Bureaucracy
The new government will likely experience more push and pull from allies, with increased pressure to end coercive tax measures directed against businesses. This suggests a potential shift towards a more business-friendly environment, balancing regulation with the need to foster economic growth.

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