Kiren Rijiju Removed as Law Minister: 4 Reasons Why BJP Picked Arjun Ram Meghwal

A low key but seasoned politician, a Dalit from Rajasthan - what made Arjun Ram Meghwal the Centre's choice?

3 min read
Hindi Female

"Putting out secret and sensitive reports of RAW or IB in public domain is a matter of grave concern," Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, who was removed as the Union Law Minister on Thursday, had said in January. Rijiju's statement came at the peak of the Central government's tussle with the Supreme Court Collegium.

The comment was one of many such made amid the prolonged conflict between the ministry and the judiciary that had escalated over the appointment of judges to the High Court.

The Supreme Court Collegium, in an unprecedented move, had disclosed the Union government's reasons for objecting to appointments recommended by the judicial appointments body. The collegium -- made up of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and other senior most judges -- had then gone on to reiterate their recommendations.

The government's reasons for sending back the names of lawyers to the judicial appointment body ranged from sexual orientation to social media posts critical of the Prime Minister.

"The government can seek a reconsideration of the names recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium," Rijiju reiterated in February.

After constant headlines over tussle with the judiciary put the government in a fix, the Centre announced Arjun Ram Meghwal as Rijiju's replacement on Thursday.

Meghwal, who has been given independent charge of the ministry, was quick to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi while denying any conflict between the judiciary and the Centre.

A staunch loyalist of PM Modi, former IAS officer, and a low-key but seasoned politician - sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pointed at four key reasons that might have led to choosing Meghwal.


Meghwal A Low Profile but Seasoned Minister

A seasoned politician from Rajasthan, Meghwal first got elected as a BJP MP from Bikaner in 2009. He retained the seat in 2014 and was appointed the BJP's Chief Whip in Lok Sabha. He was also the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Water Resource, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in Modi government's first tenure.

After the government returned to power in 2019, Meghwal once again became Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.

An LLB from Bikaner's Dungar college and a former IAS officer, he was co-chairman of the Committee on the Reservation in Judiciary, under National Commission for Scheduled Castes in 2011-2014.

Other than a few controversial statements made in the past that attracted media attention, Meghwal is know to keep a low profile which could be beneficial following a spate of public conflicts between the ministry and the judiciary.

Perception that Rijiju was Making Headlines Without Delivering

Though the government stood with Rijiju during every conflict with the judiciary, there was not much resolution despite the media attention. Moreover, a perception of the Modi government trying to overrule the judiciary of the country given its repeated claims of belief in the judicial system didn't make matters any better for the government.


No Change in Govt Stand on Judiciary But...

Sources claimed that the ouster of Rijiju does not mean a change or softening in the government's stand regarding the judiciary and the powers of the collegium.

However, the government expects Meghwal to bring in fresh perspectives when it comes to dealing with judicial matters and conflicts and avoid them from becoming public spats that made headlines.


A Dalit Leader from Rajasthan

A Dalit leader from Rajasthan, Meghwal has influence and giving him more prominence is party's way of bringing together different factions and social groups just months ahead of the Rajasthan elections.

He is one of the BJP's most prominent leaders in the border districts of Rajasthan. Also one of the most key politicians from the Meghwal community, he is one of the most prominent Dalit faces from the BJP in the state

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