The most important message of the government reshuffle in India on Wednesday July 7 came from outgoing ministers, more than incoming. Two years after his triumphant return to power in May 2019, Narendra Modi has thoroughly recomposed his executive. The Prime Minister seeks to regain control, after being severely criticized for his management of the Covid-19 epidemic and for the climate of repression that reigns in a country considered today as “an electoral autocracy” by many organizations international.
Shortly before the Hindu nationalist leader unveiled his new team, at the end of the day, no less than twelve members of the government resigned, and not the least. This is the case of Harsh Vardhan, who had held the health portfolio since May 2019. This ENT profession ultimately serves as a fuse for the Prime Minister, after the devastation caused by Covid-19. During the first wave which, in the spring of 2020, which had thrown onto the roads hundreds of thousands of migrant workers deprived of income because of extremely harsh confinement; in the second wave thereafter, in April and May 2021, which brought the subcontinent to land due to the inability of hospitals to provide enough beds and oxygen to victims of the coronavirus. At the height of the crisis, India, grappling with general panic, will have detected more than 400,000 cases every day and recorded more than 4,000 deaths.
The new Minister of Health, Mansukh Mandaviya, will have a lot to do to prepare the country, in just a few weeks, for the third epidemic wave expected in August, with only 4.5% of the population vaccinated for the moment.
This senator is reputed to be in the books of Narendra Modi, as a former apparatchik of the ruling Indian People’s Party, the BJP, in the Gujarat region where the head of government is from. Mr. Mandaviya, 49, has a degree in political science and has particularly distinguished himself in the past by his activism within Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the right-wing student union of the Hindu nationalist movement. Until now, he was State Secretary for Chemistry and Fertilizers.
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Another widely commented resignation is that of Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Justice and Information Technologies. This Bihar lawyer was the bête noire of the defenders of freedoms, who held him responsible for the arbitrary arrests of countless dissenting voices in academia, associations and journalists.
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