The 2019 Lok Sabha results saw a splendid NDA victory, with BJP getting 303 seats and the alliance overall getting 353 seats. Now that it is clear that BJP is coming for a 2nd term, speculations have already begun as to the cabinet ministers. Usually, the ministers of the cabinet remain the same in the next term of the party, however, this time; the post of the Minister of External Affairs is going to be reassigned. Sushma Swaraj, the current minister has made it abundantly clear that she will not be continuing with her post. Sushma Swaraj has made many changes in the process to help simplify the passport application process, along with handling all sorts of international issues. However, due to health constraints, she hadn’t contested in the elections this time around and though she has made tremendous achievements during her office, another leader would be taking her place.
There are several leaders in the BJP who would be appropriate for the post. One of the most likely such leaders is the current defense minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. Well educated and smart, she has plenty of laurels to add to her name. Holding an economics masters degree from JNU and a Ph.D, Nirmala Sitharaman is a brilliant orator. During her tenure as the Defence Minister, with the emphasis on national security she has already proven her brilliance in handling international affairs. During the Balakot air strikes, the way she handled the international community was commendable. Over and above that, her biggest achievement has been in handling the Rafale isuue with the French company Dussault, a deal through which India bought 36 fighter jets. The opposition had spared no opportunity to malign BJP’s name with respect to the deal and Sitharman had slashed all the baseless accusations with hard facts. Her engagement with the French with respect to the deal was also commendable. Having proven her caliber successfully, PM Modi is likely to look towards her to fill in Sushma Swaraj’s shoes.
The other likely leader for the post is Swapan Dasgupta. A renowned journalist, since the past decade he has been a very public figure, featuring in all major political debates, and has been writing for all the major publications in the country. In 2015, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan award for his contribution to Literature and Education. A St. Stephens graduate and a Ph.D. holder, Swapan Dasgupta has contributed immensely to the academia in India. One important aspect going in Swapan Dasgupta is BJP’s massive gains in West Bengal and BJP’s concerted efforts to bring back Bengal in the nationalist fold. BJP has for the first time won 18 seats in the state and wants to further consolidate its position, to effectively deal with the threat Mamata Banerjee’s state government poses. Having Dasgupta, a Bengali, in a prominent cabinet position will do political wonders for the saffron party at the state level.
General VK Singh
The third likely candidate for the position is General VK Singh. He is a former chief of army staff, the highest position in the Indian army and is an expert in counterinsurgency and high altitude operations. With neighbors like ours, this is the need of the hour. More so, VK Singh is the present Minister of State for External Affairs in the Modi government and his performance during his office has been tremendous. He had received much praise for leading Operation Rahat, which was a rescue mission to evacuate Indian citizens and other foreign nationals from Yemen during the Yemen Crisis in 2015. Such acclaims clearly show that VK Singh has the right caliber and experience required for the Minister of External Affairs.
These are the 3 main leaders who are most likely to be appointed as the Minister of External Affairs. The leaders are strong and experienced, with multiple laurels to their names and would definitely be the idle choices to represent India on the international front.