Miffed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has his way

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has been inducted into a number of key cabinet committees after being omitted earlier in the day. The development came, according to sources cited by NDTV, only after the veteran BJP leader made his displeasure known. He will now be in six of these committees. Rajnath was reportedly upset not just at his omission but also that an impression was gaining ground that he has ceded the number two slot to Amit Shah.

Rajnath’s exclusion raised eyebrows because the minister who is number two in the government is by convention sworn in right after the prime minister; Rajnath was indeed sworn in after the PM but curiously left out of the political affairs committee. The number two usually presides over the cabinet and the political affairs committee in the absence of the Prime Minister.

Shah's importance in the government was underscored by the fact that he figures in all the eight Cabinet committees constituted on Thursday; he was heading two of them while Prime Minister Modi headed the rest. The most important of these committees is the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs.

Initially, it had a dozen members but, curiously, missing from it was Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. He, in fact, figured on just two committees -- one on security and the other on economic affairs.

The most powerful Cabinet Appointments Committee decides on all top-level postings at the Centre. Incidentally, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman figures on all the seven committees, except for the ACC, which is the exclusive domain of PM and Shah.After Rajnath made his displeasure known, he has been added to the committees on parliamentary affairs; political affairs; investment and growth; and employment and skill development as well.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal figures on five committees while Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has a berth on four committees.Those on the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs besides PM Modi and Shah are Gadkari, Sitharaman, Narendra Singh Tomar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Piyush Goyal, Prahlad Joshi (all BJP), Ramvilas Paswan (Lok Janshakti Party), Harsimrat Kaur Badal (Akali Dal), and Arvind Ganpat Sawant (Shiv Sena).The allies have been given a short-shrift as Akali Dal's Harsimrat Kaur Badal finds a place in just three committees, Ramvilas Paswan on two and Shiv Sena's Sawant on one.External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, a former foreign secretary, figures on two committees, one on security and another on economic affairs.

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