<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, once again, managed to outwit the Lutyens’ Delhi insiders, including the media, would be akin to saying milk is white. All speculation proved to be incorrect. Who would have thought Modi would dish out a masterstroke by giving India her first full-fledged woman Defence Minister? In the Modi era, political guesstimate doesn’t work.Today’s reshuffle exercise has Modi stamped all over it. Be it the elevation of Nirmala Sitharaman as Defence Minister or the induction of four former officers — two IAS, one IPS and one IFS – in the council of ministers, the PM has sent a clear message: This reshuffle is aimed at drastically ramping up his government’s performance with an eye on the 2019 general elections.Everybody, especially Modi himself, is aware that when voters enter the polling booths in 2019, the main factor would be Modi and his performance in achieving his stated goal of Maximum Governance, Minimum Government. Therefore, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone to see the PM bringing in outside talent to strengthen his own hands.The induction of former Union Home Secretary RK Singh, former IFS officer Hardeep Singh Puri, former Kerala cadre IAS officer KJ Alphons and former IPS officer Satya Pal Singh underlines the premium that Modi puts on experience and capacity to deliver and match the gruelling pace set by him.Having said that, there is no denying the fact that the Prime Minister’s search for credible names was also hampered by absence of talented and experienced bench-strength among the current lot of MPs.It is now clear that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will continue to play a more proactive role in running various ministries. Even in the elevation of Sitharaman, the signal is that the PMO will continue to micro-manage defence, like it does in foreign affairs.Apart from Modi, the only other man whose hand is clearly visible in the reshuffle is BJP president Amit Shah, who seems to have given significant inputs on the exercise.By ignoring the JD(U) and the ever-complaining Shiv Sena, Modi has again made it clear that he isn’t open to any kind of political blackmail.The laggards have been punished, while performers have been amply rewarded. Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s elevation as Railway Minister is a sign that the PM wants an end to continuous derailments and accidents. Nobody understands better how to contain ‘derailments’ than Goyal. As Power and Coal Minister, he put an end to scams in the Coal Ministry while at the same time ensuring production was increased so that shortage of the crucial material couldn’t derail the India growth story.Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has been awarded for the success of the Ujjwala and LPG (DBT) schemes – both pet projects of the Prime Minister.Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been rewarded for his handling of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha as Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs.

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Modi’s 2019 squad is ready