Union Ministers R.C.P. Singh of the Janata Dal (U) and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of the BJP resigned on Wednesday, a day before the completion of their Rajya Sabha term.
Both Mr. Singh and Mr. Naqvi have not been renominated by their respective parties, but they were technically entitled to continue for another six months without being an MP.
That option, however, was not exercised by either of them, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in fact, turning Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting as a kind of valedictory meeting for the two Ministers, praising their performance and thanking them for their service. Mr. Singh held the Steel portfolio, while Mr. Naqvi was Minister for Minority Affairs.
A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique, while stating that the resignations of the Ministers had been accepted under Clause (2) of Article 75 of the Constitution, said that Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia would be handling Steel as an additional portfolio, while Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani would be looking after the Ministry of Minority Affairs as an additional charge. Mr. Naqvi went straight from the Cabinet meeting to the BJP’s national headquarters on Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg to meet party chief J.P. Nadda. He also met Mr. Modi in the evening and handed over his resignation.
While it is being said that he may yet return to the Rajya Sabha as Chairperson and Vice-President of India, government sources said such reports were mere speculation. Mr. Naqvi had been holding the position of Deputy Leader of the Rajya Sabha. The fact that neither Mr. Singh nor Mr. Naqvi got renominated was surprising, with the former’s failure to get renominated also revealing an internal tug of war in the Janata Dal(U) and reports of him being seen as closer to the BJP than his own party.
Whatever the case, it made the continuation of Mr. Singh untenable in the Council of Ministers as the BJP and the JD(U) are running a government in Bihar. In fact, Mr. Singh, after sending his resignation by fax to Mr. Modi, met Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan who handles the party affairs in Bihar. A Cabinet expansion may be on the cards, but it is still not certain if the JD(U) would offer another name to be Minister.