Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Minister of State for Health Ashwini Chaube both resigned today, hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet reshuffle. Along with Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, these are the biggest casualties of the mega government reset.
The resignation of both Health Ministers comes as the government battles criticism of its handling of the second wave of Covid in April-May, which ambushed India's health infrastructure and left tens of thousands desperate for oxygen, hospital beds and vaccine. As cases dip, the government's next priority is to stave off a third wave of the virus.
This hinges on the government's vaccination plan, which is under the Health Ministry and is also seen to be floundering.
Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar have also quit. So have Babul Supriyo, Sadananda Gowda, Debashree Chaudhuri, Sanjay Dhotre, Ratan Lal Kataria, Rao Saheb Dhanve Patil and Pratap Chandra Sarangi. Thawarchand Gehlot was appointed as Governor of Karnataka yesterday.
PM Modi's cabinet reshuffle, the first in his second term, will see 43 ministers being sworn in this evening.
In the weeks leading to the revamp, PM Modi and top leaders like Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief JP Nadda carried out a detailed review of the performance of ministries, especially those who had a role in the Covid fight.
BDST: 1702 HRS, JUL 07, 2021