With Narendra Modi keeping his cards close to his chest in terms of the ministers who will take charge of the core cabinet ministries, speculation has been rife about who the key decision makers of the new regime will be. Simplify360 analyzed thousands of tweets to see which NDA leaders the public favoured to take over the ministries of Defence, Law, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Finance.
To determine Twitter audience’s choice, social intelligence firm analyzed nearly 4,000 tweets that used the hashtag #dreamcabinet. After filtering out jokes, trolls, etc. we had a fairly decent idea of what the people’s choice was. Tweets were analyzed between the period of May 16-19. Retweets were also included in the sample with the assumption that a retweet equals an endorsement of the candidate. Of course, this is not an inclusive list, since there are a number of other leaders who might also be in contention, rather this is a list of candidates that Twitter users feel are ideal or stand the best chance at the various ministries. Let’s take a look at the ministers Twitter users want in their dream cabinet.
Economic progress and stability is seen as perhaps the most important responsibility for the new government going forward. Senior leader Arun Jaitley is the frontrunner here with an overwhelming 73 per cent of the votes, way ahead of second-placed Subramanian Swamy. Though Jaitley lost his seat in the Lok Sabha elections to Congress’ Captain Amarinder Singh in Amritsar, he is widely considered as an astute politician. He previously held portfolios as the Union cabinet minister for Commerce and Industry, Law and Justice between 1998-2004.
The junta’s selection seems pretty much in line with media speculations, which has pegged ArunJaitley as the frontrunner to land either the Finance Ministry or External Affairs. Another major candidate for the post of Finance Minister according to media reports is ArunShourie, who got just 5 per cent of ‘pro’ tweets. Shourie is a trained economist and has worked with the Planning ComissionOf India, as well as the World Bank. He is also far from politically naive, so could provide the ideal balance between politician and economist.
The third candidate, second placed Swamy who got 15 per cent ‘pro’ votes, is an interesting choice. A veteran politician with a background in economics, Swamy has claimed that he laid the foundations for the economic liberalization of India, which was later carried out famously in 1991 by Manmohan Singh, under the leadership of then Prime Minster PV Narsimha Rao. However, Swamy has a habit of finding himself in the centre of controversy, which might just hurt his chances with the BJP core team wanting to project a more inclusive image this term.
Unlike the Finance Ministry, Twitter users seem to be divided about who should head the home ministry. The three clear frontrunners are Sushma Swaraj (24 per cent), Amit Shah (21 per cent) and Rajnath Singh (20 per cent). Amit Shah is known as the right hand of Modi. He has already served as Minister of State for Home Affairs in Gujarat under Modi, while his planning as campaign manager for UP is considered as a reason for BJP’s stellar performance in the state. However, Shah’s political career has also been somewhat sullied by allegations of fake encounters and the 2013 surveillance controversy. Considered a strategic planner and held in high esteem by Modi, Shah’s chances might be pretty good.
However, media reports suggest that Rajnath Singh, the current BJP president and the man expected to be No 2 after Modi in the new government has his eyes on the Home Ministry.
Sushma Swaraj’s case is a special one. Never considered very close to Modi, the veteran politician was said to have opposed the nomination of Modi as BJP’s PM candidate. However, there is no denying her political experience, having had a stint as Union Minister for I&B& Telecommunications as well as Chief Minister of Delhi. Media reports are also divisive and it seems even analysts are having a hard time projecting what lies in Swaraj’s future. It has been suggested that she is eyeing the Home Ministry or the Ministry of External Affairs, though it remains to be seen ifModi will hand responsibility of these two highly important departments to someone not considered firmly in his corner.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER
Once again, Twitter users are divided among two main candidates for this post, with Susham Swaraj and Arun Jaitley neck to neck in popularity with 45 per cent and 47 per cent ‘pro’ sentiments respectively. Both are savvy and experienced politicians who have held important posts in state and union ministries. Jaitley is closer to the Modi camp and this might be a decisive factor. Another consideration could also be whether Jaitley does get the Finance portfolio as both the media and Twitter users seem to think it is more likely.
Once again Arun Jaitley emerges as a top candidate with 66 per cent votes, with Ravi Shankar Prasad second with 13 per cent votes. However, the support for Jaitley to take up this post could be more because he has served in similar capacities in the past and had a distinguished career in law before joining politics. Considering how priced his political acumen is by Modi et al, it is more likely that Jaitley is set for one of the more significant ministries.
The second choice of Twitter; Ravi Shankar Prasad, is another leader with a distinguished career in law and who served as Minister of State in the Ministry of Law & Justice in 2002, under prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He has also held various other responsibilities at the national level under the NDA government. If Jaitley is set for one of the top three portfolios, it is more likely that Prasad might be the ideal candidate to take over responsibilities as Law Minister.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, most commentators on Twitter seem to want to see ex-Army Chief General VK Singh as the next Defence Minister. Nearly, 52 per cent favoured Singh, followed by Rajnath Singh at 17 per cent. General Singh created a stir when he became the first Army Chief to sue the Government. He started his political career by aligning with the then popular Anna Hazare movement before joining the BJP this year. He won the Ghaziabad constituency seat in the recently concluded elections.
Interestingly, Rajnath Singh, who comes second according to the analysis, was the incumbent who Singh replaced in Ghaziabad. Though General Singh might seem to have the majority, it should also be noted that 31 per cent of the commentators seem to favour candidates other than the top two. Will Modi be open to giving the important Defence Ministry over to a candidate who has spent less than a year with the party over more long-serving and experienced ministers? The BJP has shown in the past that it does pay close attention to what people are talking on social media (remember the Pramod Muthalik incident?) though, of course, the formation of Cabinet is a much more serious matter.