Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advised new ministers to avoid speaking to the media unnecessarily and consult their predecessors about work, government sources said on Thursday, a day after the massive cabinet overhaul.
“PM Modi mentioned the ministers who were dropped in the meeting of the council of ministers and praised them,” sources said.
“New ministers were asked to meet with them and seek guidance in their work. The PM also advised the new ministers to avoid giving unnecessary statements to the media,” they added.
Twelve ministers, including the ones responsible for the Health Ministry tarred by the catastrophic surge in COVID-19 cases earlier this year, were asked to resign ahead of the cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday.
The resignations were part of a major cabinet reshuffle and expansion ahead of seven state elections in 2022.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, 66, came in for particular criticism during the spike in infections in April and May blamed on new virus variants and lax restrictions.
Healthcare services were under severe pressure in many areas with hospitals running out of beds, medical oxygen and drugs just weeks after Dr Vardhan had said that India was “in the end-game” of the pandemic.
India’s official death count has exploded from 1.6 lakh at the end of March to more than 4 lakh now. Many experts suspect the true toll is several times higher.
Three dozen new faces were inducted into the new cabinet, taking the number of ministers to 77 up from 52.
More than a dozen ministers are from states where elections are due such as Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat representing different castes and regional communities, a dominant factor in the country’s electoral politics.
But the expansion witnessed the shock exit of Ravi Shankar Prasad — minister for law and justice and information technology — and Prakash Javadekar, minister for information and broadcasting, environment and climate change.
Both Mr Prasad, 66, and Mr Javadekar, 70, were seen as faces of the BJP government, with some reports suggesting they will be tasked with party work ahead of the key state elections.