Ahead of planned major cabinet reshuffling by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Indian Government, no fewer than twelve ministers have resigned from their position.
The ministers, including that of health, attributed their actions to a catastrophic surge in Covid-19 cases earlier this year, and other challenges bordering on government battle with social media giants, Twitter and WhatsApp.
As gathered, the Wednesday resignations also form part of a major reshuffle by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of seven state elections in 2022.
Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan’s resignation was said to have come in for particular criticism during the spike in infections in April and May, and the country’s inability to manage the pandemic better.
The others resigning include Prakash Javadekar, minister for the environment, forests and climate change as well as information, broadcasting, and heavy industries. The Minister of Education, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, also quit.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad, and his counterpart from Information Technology, also resigned, according to a statement from the president’s office.
Prasad, 66, a close ally of Modi, was however expected to be given an important role in Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the state elections, press reports said.
Seven Indian states are due to hold elections next year, six of them currently ruled by the BJP. They include Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, Gujarat and Punjab.
It would be recalled that the health service was under severe pressure in many areas with hospitals running out of beds, medical oxygen, and drugs.
The Covid-19 explosion was blamed on new virus variants and the government for allowing mass religious and political gatherings to take place in January, February and March.
Modi had declared victory over the virus in January and critics argued that his government failed to use the time to prepare the historically underfunded health system for another wave.
India’s official death toll has exploded from around 160,000 at the end of March to more than 400,000 now, the third-highest in the world. But many experts suspect that due to undercounting and incorrect recording of the cause of death, the real number of dead could be several times higher.