New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who effected a Cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday last week, is living up to his image of being a hard taskmaster and someone who knows what he wants from his Cabinet and party colleagues.

In his first one-on-one, candid interaction with the newly inducted ministers and party functionaries, the PM sought their honest opinion about the government’s image, the feedback regarding government schemes and asked them to get on their job from day one, while expressing his dissatisfaction over the party leaders going missing from the public during the Covid-19 second wave.

The government has fewer than 1,000 days before the April-May 2024 general elections and hence the PM is pushing his colleagues to start giving results.

The PM, who has met his new Council of Ministers (both Cabinet and Ministers of State) twice now, laid down a series of guidelines for them to ensure that the new ministers do the job for which they have been inducted in the Cabinet—improve efficiency of governance.

The PM, during one such meeting with his Council of Cabinet Ministers and with the party’s general secretaries and secretaries, asked  them to share their feedback about the image that the government has on the ground among the citizens.

In the second such meeting that he had with his ministers, which was held this Wednesday, the PM gave a briefing to all his ministers on how to conduct themselves when Parliament session begins from Monday.

The PM asked the ministers to come well prepared with replies to the questions that will be asked to them in Parliament.

They were instructed to get as much knowledge of their ministry as they can by then and not embarrass themselves and the government by being in a situation where they are not aware of what is happening in their ministry.

Significantly, the ministers have also been asked to wear masks at all times, whenever they are in public. The PM has instructed them not to share any photographs in the public domain without them wearing masks so that they can set examples on how to behave during the pandemic situation. The impact of the PM’s instructions was evident as several ministers, despite repeated requests from their supporters, did not allow them to click selfies without the mask.

The PM also told the ministers to speak softly and maintain caution when they are interacting with the media to ensure that they do not say something which may generate any controversy for the minister, government and the party.

In a similar interaction with the party general secretaries and secretaries that happened last week, the PM told them about his vision for the development of the country. The general secretaries and the secretaries were asked to give their feedback about the different schemes that the government has launched. He also asked them to share one positive and one negative about the present schemes. The PM also sought their feedback on which points the government’s schemes and policies needed to improve and suggestions for new schemes and policies that the government should introduce.

The PM took a briefing from each of the secretaries and general secretaries about their home states and the state that they are in charge of. These office bearers were asked to visit the state which they have been given charge of more often as many of the secretaries and general secretaries have not gone to their respective states. The PM reportedly expressed his unhappiness over the fact some BJP leaders went missing during the Covid-19 second wave.

He also saw a presentation on the situation in Bengal that included incidents of post-poll violence and how party workers were being harassed. The PM was apprised by party functionaries that close to eight BJP MLAs are likely to join the TMC on 21 July when the TMC will celebrate “Shahid Diwas”.

The ministers, especially those who have joined the Cabinet for the first time, have been asked to attend the Rajya Sabha to reply to questions that their ministry will have from the members. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi made a presentation to the ministers on the upcoming Parliament session during one such meeting.

All the ministers have been asked not to leave Delhi at least till 15 August and to report to work regularly by 9 am. The PM has also instructed the new inductees to take help from their seniors and former ministers whenever they have doubts or need more clarity.