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12 Indian ministers resign in major reorganization


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

  • The resignation is part of a major reorganization before the 2022 election.
  • Before the resignation of the Minister of Health, the number of Covid-19 deaths in India surged from approximately 160,000 at the end of March to more than 400,000 now.
  • Seven Indian states will hold elections next year.

After a surge in Covid-19 cases earlier this year, 12 Indian ministers, including the Minister of Health, resigned on Wednesday.

The resignation is part of a major reorganization by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the seven state elections in 2022.

The 66-year-old Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was particularly criticized during the peak of infections in April and May.

Health services in many areas are under tremendous pressure, and hospital beds, medical oxygen and medicines have been exhausted.

The Covid-19 outbreak was blamed on a new variant of the virus, and the government allowed large-scale religious and political gatherings in January, February and March.

Modi announced his victory over the virus in January. Critics say his government failed to use this time to prepare the historically underfunded health system for another wave of outbreaks.

Read also | The Covid-19 pandemic is on the rise again, with Brazil and India killing the most

India’s official death toll has soared from about 160,000 at the end of March to more than 400,000 at present, ranking third in the world.

But many experts suspect that the actual death toll may be several times higher due to underestimation and misrecording of the cause of death.

-Election-

According to a statement from the Office of the President, Minister of Law, Justice and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad has also resigned.

However, media reports claim that Prasad, 66, is a close ally of Modi and is expected to play an important role in Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Seven Indian states will hold elections next year, and six of them are currently governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party. They include India’s most populous states of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab.

Earlier this year, the Bharatiya Janata Party suffered a major setback because it failed to seize power from a high-profile Modi critic.

Some commentators said this reflects Modi’s decline in popularity due to his handling of the pandemic. However, BJP did retain the state of Assam in the northeast.

-Twitter Tucao-

In recent months, Prasad has fallen into a fierce dispute with foreign social media companies.

His ministry instituted a rule change, requiring the company to delete and identify the “first sponsor” of posts believed to undermine India’s sovereignty, national security, or public order.

Social media companies and privacy activists worry that the ambiguity of the rules means they may be forced to identify the authors of posts critical of the government.

WhatsApp is challenging the rules in court, fearing that it will have to break its encryption system to prevent anyone other than the sender and receiver from reading the message.

The war of words with Twitter was the fiercest, and the Weibo site failed to appoint a compliance officer based in India.

Read also | At least half of minors in Mumbai have Covid-19 antibodies-survey

In May of this year, after Twitter marked the tweets of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national spokesperson as “manipulated media,” Indian police visited Twitter’s offices in Delhi and Gurgaon.

Twitter responded to accusing the government of adopting “intimidation strategies.”

After Prasad posted a video containing music that violated US copyright laws, his Twitter account was briefly locked.

He called this a “serious violation” and said it showed that he “screamed out Twitter’s domineering and arbitrary behavior…obviously angered its feathers.”

Others who have resigned include Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, and Information, Broadcasting and Heavy Industry.

Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank also resigned.



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