Right after the oath-taking ceremony on Thursday of Modi Sarkar 2.0, incumbent Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi tweeted, “This team is a blend of youthful energy and administrative experience. It has people who have excelled as Parliamentarians and those who have had distinguished professional careers”.
As many ponder over what Modi meant, one must indeed consider that of the 57 cabinet ministers sworn into his NDA government, 39% of them, that is 22, have criminal charges registered against them.
Terrorism, treason, arson, murder, rape, robbery, burglary, communal disharmony, electoral violations, and kidnapping are just a few of the criminal cases.
Modi, in his recent speech at the Parliament Centre Hall said that for all these years minorities have been cheated by the opposition and it was time to “win them over”. Minorities, he claims, have been made to live in an “imaginary fear”.
According to the reports, six ministers – Pratap Chandra Sarangi, Babul Supriyo, Giriraj Singh, Nityanand Rai, Pralhad Joshi, and new Home Minister of India, Amit Shah – have been caught in cases of violation of IPC Section-153A, for endorsing hatred between different groups on the basis of religion, race, language etc. Each of them is well-known, in court and otherwise, for deliberate acts intended to outrage religious beliefs (IPC Section-295A).
Mr. Shah, who holds one of the most important ministries in the Indian parliament, went to jail in 2010 in connection with the extra-judicial killing of alleged criminal Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife. He was charged with murder, extortion, and kidnapping. Mr. Shah has also testified in cases linked to the 2002 Gujarat riots and several fake encounters during his tenure as a Gujarat minister.
Known as “Odisha’s Modi”, Pratap Chandra Sarangi, the new social media darling, faces seven pending criminal charges. In 1999, when he served as the chief of Bajrang Dal, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, aged 11 and 7, were burnt alive by men with links to the hardcore Hindutva group. Sarangi regularly worries about the rising population of Christians in Odisha, and insists, “Christian missionaries, to generalize, are idiots”. That aside, Sarangi has been chosen as an apt leader to head the two Ministries of State.
Three Ministers – Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Nitin Gadkari and Giriraj Singh – were booked in cases related to illegal payments and bribery in elections (IPC Section-171H, 171E). Union Minister Giriraj Singh was also booked in a land-grabbing case by the Bihar police in 2018.
Poor Man’s Government
Modi who takes great pride in his “poor man’s government”, welcomed 51 crorepatis into the cabinet’s strength of 57. According to stats produced by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), with 91% of the ministers being deep-pocketed, the average assets per minister is Rs 14.72 crores.
Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal tops the list with assets worth Rs 217 crore. Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal races to second place with Rs 95 crore worth of assets. Only five ministers have declared assets worth less than a crore, with Union minister Pratap Chandra Sarangi, on behalf of his team, owning assets worth just Rs 13 lakhs.
However, National Election Watch (NEW) reports, 84% of the ministers have an educational qualification of a graduate or above. Eight ministers have studied between 10th and 12th standards.
Meanwhile, girl power stands at 11%, with three women – Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani and Harsimrat Kaur Badal – seated at the Union cabinet alongside their 22 male colleagues.
The nation eagerly awaits the service of parliamentarians with “distinguished professional careers”.