Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t confirmed No 2 position in the Union cabinet to any one, for all practical purposes home minister Amit Shah is asserting himself as the No 2. In the list of Union Cabinet members, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was placed after the Prime Minister.
But, presiding over a meeting of senior cabinet colleagues to discuss the disruption of crude oil supplies from Iran in view of the new US sanctions and its possible impact on the Indian market, Amit Shah has given clear indication that he will be next to Prime Minister.
During the first five years term of Narendra Modi, no such meeting was held in his absence. Apart from the serious discussions on the subject, the big takeaway from the meeting was the strong imprint that Shah left about his authority and stature in the Union Cabinet.
The fact that Shah headed the deliberations sent out a clear signal that he is increasingly going to exercise the powers of a de facto “deputy prime minister” by calling other ministers for meetings at his office — a privilege that is conventionally enjoyed only by the Prime Minister.
For the first time in the pre-independent history, the home minister chaired the discussions on issues relating to petroleum, inflation and foreign affairs. The meeting lasted for over an hour and saw discussions on various aspects related to crude oil imports from Iran and ways to escape the US sanctions.
Among those who attended the meeting were finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar, commerce and railway minister Piyush Goyal, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, along with Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.
As Prime Minister is normally not accessible even to ministers, now Amit Shah is holding the task of coordinating other ministers also. Even he is attempting to check some minister’s unwarranted comments against NDA partners and also political opponents.