Indian media: Cabinet expansion focuses on polls, performance

PM Narendra Modi wants the BJP to win more state elections Image copyright Reuters
Image caption PM Narendra Modi wants the BJP to win more state elections

Media are analysing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to include new ministers from poll-bound states into his cabinet.

On Sunday, Mr Modi introduced 21 more ministers into his government and reshuffled some portfolios.

Assembly elections are due in Bihar in 2015, in West Bengal in 2016 and in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in 2017.

Most papers feel that Mr Modi has given "adequate representation" to these states in his ministry to improve his Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) chances of winning the state elections.

Calling the expansion a "much-needed facelift" for the government, an editorial in The Times of India says that Mr Modi has "also made some compromises with electoral politics, distributing portfolios to those who are important for caste and regional reasons".

From the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh which elects 80 MPs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Mahesh Sharma, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Ram Shankar Katheria have been inducted into the council of ministers, taking the total number of federal ministers from the state to 12, the Deccan Herald reports.

Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Giriraj Singh and Ram Kripal Yadav have been included to represent Bihar - which elects 40 MPs - in the ministry.

The Indian Express says "castes and communities seen as potential vote banks have been given representation with the intent to widen the party's social base".

"The first cabinet expansion attempts at giving adequate representation to the poll-bound states and also reward 'performers' and 'achievers' in his [Mr Modi's] quest for better delivery from his ministers," the Deccan Herald adds.

Meanwhile, some newspapers feel that the BJP has largely ignored its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners in the expansion.

The Shiv Sena, one of the oldest allies of the BJP, refused to take part in the expansion because of the ongoing political deadlock in western Maharashtra state.

The BJP emerged as the single-largest party in the recent assembly elections in Maharashtra, but has failed to convince the Shiv Sena to join the state government.

The standoff with the Shiv Sena "reflects the BJP's resolve to advance its position even at the risk of alienating allies… It is not at all surprising that Mr Modi has chosen to limit the presence of NDA partners in his ministry," The Indian Express says.

'Compulsory' voting

Moving on to other news, the western state of Gujarat has become the first Indian state to make voting compulsory in civic and village council elections, a report in the Business Standard says.

The new law says that those who do not vote in "local body polls will be penalised", the report says.

And finally, Indian grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand tasted early defeat in the World Chess Championship held in Sochi on Sunday, the NDTV website reports.

Anand lost the second game of the tournament to defending world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who now leads the series, according to the report.

The Indian champion is "seeking revenge" from Carlsen who defeated him during last year's championship in the southern Indian city of Chennai.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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