Ashok Gulati may be Modi’s surprise pick for Agriculture Ministry
New Delhi: With Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi is all set to be sworn in for the second consecutive term and to choose his Cabinet, speculations are on as to who will be the new Agriculture Minister.
Radha Mohan Singh, who headed the ministry in the first Modi government, is unlikely to be given the charge again, BJP sources said, adding that his tenure was not so impressive and the government faced a lot of criticism by the opposition parties on this front.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) defeat in the Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh late last year were also seen as the repercussion of the farming community’s anger.
With Modi, having, on many occasions, surprised the country by his choice of several key appointments including Ram Nath Kovind as NDA’s presidential candidate and Hardeep Singh Puri and K.J. Alphons as Ministers, Ashok Gulati is a name which may figure when Modi names his ministers and allocates them portfolios.
If sources are to be believed, Gulati’s name is being considered by Modi for the next Agriculture Minister.
A well-known agricultural economist, Gulati is a former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), the government’s advisory body on food supplies and pricing policies, where he was instrumental in hiking minimum support price of several food grains.
He was also assigned responsibility to advise the government on pricing policies of 23 agri-commodities.
Currently Infosys chair professor for Agriculture at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), Gulati is also a member of the Task Force on Agriculture set by the Prime Minister under the NITI Aayog and the Chairman of the Expert Group on Agriculture Market Reforms.
He was an active member of the High Level Committee set up by the NDA government to restructure and reorient the Food Corporation of India in order to improve its operational and financial efficiency.
Having graduated from Shri Ram College of Commerce and done his Masters in Economics and PhD from the Delhi School of Economics, Gulati was the youngest member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council in the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.