On Thursday, many were left grieving after Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has passed away, days after undergoing heart surgery. The news was announced by his son Chirag, who tweeted that the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) founder was no longer with us.
"I have lost a friend, valued colleague and someone who was extremely passionate to ensure every poor person leads a life of dignity," Prime Minister Modi had tweeted at the time. Many other political leaders from across party lines had also tweeted their condolences.
But even as the funerary procedures continue, many have noted that the Modi Cabinet no longer has any representatives from among the BJP allies that make up the NDA. Ramdas Athawale of the Republican Party of India is the lone allied party leader who is part of the Central government. He is a Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment.
Apart from Prime Minister Modi, there are 58 people in the Council of Ministers. All the Cabinet Ministers are from the BJP at present, and the party has also lost a few allied members over the past year. This includes Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Shiromani Akali Dal who recently resigned over the contentious Farm Bills and Arvind Sawant from the Shiv Sena who quit amid the political tussle over the formation of the Maharashtra government. Both these parties have since quit the NDA.
Even as the nation battles the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises, the government had been dealt yet another blow recently with the demise of Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi.
While 57 ministers had been sworn in last year, these recent developments has seen the number of Cabinet Ministers come down to 21. At the same time, there are now 23 ministers of state.