Modi’s cabinet expansion finds fresh talent

RSTV Bureau

ministers_allFormer Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Former Shiv Sainik Suresh Prabhu were inducted into the Union Cabinet and given Defence and Railway portfolios respectively as Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook an expansion of his council of ministers and reshuffled portfolios while bringing in 21 new faces.

Yesterday’s exercise was marred by the boycott of Shiv Sena which recalled its nominee Anil Desai from Delhi airport back to Mumbai and warned that the party would sit in Opposition if BJP goes with NCP in Maharashtra.

The already-strained BJP-Sena ties further dipped when Prabhu, Power minister in the Vajpayee government, deserted the Sena and joined BJP Sunday morning to take oath as a Cabinet minister. Prabhu has already been appointed Modi’s ‘sherpa’ for the G-20 Summit.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who shed Defence portfolio, interestingly got Information and Broadcasting from Prakash Javadekar, who has now been left with only Environment and Forests.

New Cabinet ministers J P Nadda and Birender Singh have been given Health and Rural Development portfolios respectively. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has been shunted to Science and Technology and Earth Sciences while Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has been divested of the Rural Development charge in favour of Bijender Singh.

The main focus of the Prime Minister has been to take away additional charges from several of the ministers and give it to the new comers in a bid streamline functioning of the ministry and to quicken their pace of work.

The three ministers of state with independent charge who were sworn in today were former ministers in Vajpayee government Bandaru Dattatreya and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who have been given Labour and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship portfolios while new comer and first time MP Mahesh Sharma from Gautam Budh Nagar, bordering Delhi, gets independent charge of Culture and Tourism and MoS in Civil Aviation. Rudy is also MoS Parliamentary Affairs.

14 other Ministers of State were sworn-in. They are Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Ram Kripal Yadav, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, Sanwar Lal Jat and Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya Giriraj Singh, Hansraj Ahir, Ram Shankar Katheria, Jayant Sinha, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Babul Supriyo, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Vijay Sampla (all BJP) and Y S Chowdary, a Rajya Sabha member from TDP.

Cabinet Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has retained Communication and Information Techonogy while shedding Law.

Nirmala Sitaraman, MoS with independent charge of Commerce has shed MoS in Finance to newcomer Jayant Sinha, son of former union minister Yashwant Sinha. Santosh Gangwarwill now only holds the charge of Textiles Ministry and MoS (Independent charge).

The charge of Labour and Employment has been taken away from Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and given to Bandaru Dattatreya as MoS (IC). Gen (retd) V K Singh is the new MoS (Independent Charge) of Statistics and Programme Implementation, held by Rao Inderjit Singh. V K Singh will also continue to hold the charges of MoS External Affairs and MoS Overseas Indian Affairs MoS in PMO Jitendra Singh gets the additional charge of Minister of Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge) till now held by V K Singh.

The charge of Ministry of Science and Technology (Independent Charge) and Earth Sciences (Independent Charge) has been taken away from Jitendra Singh. Shripad Yesso Naik is the new Minister of State (Independent Charge) of AAYUSH (Independent Charge) and MoS Health & Family Welfareand, shifting him from the charges of MoS Culture (Independent Charge) and MoS Tourism (Independent Charge) now given to Mahesh Sharma.

The charge of MoS Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has also been taken away from Sarbananda Sonowal, who now retains only Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge).

G M Siddeshwara is the new MoS Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises shifting him from the Civil Aviation Ministry now given to Mahesh Sharma.

Nihalchand gets the charge of MoS Panchayati Raj while Upendra Kushwaha is the new MoS, HRD Ministry after shifting him from MoS Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministries.

Sanjeev Kumar Balyan retains only MoS Agriculture shedding additional charge of Food Processing Industries Ministry.

Naqvi, BJP Vice President and a minister in the Vajpayee government, was only made a Minister of State, and Rudy became MoS with Independent Charge but eyebrows went up when Mahesh Sharma, a first time member of Lok Sabha, was made Minister of State with Independent Charge. Ahir was rewarded for his relentless campaign as a whistle-blower in the coal block allocation scam.

Among those rewarded with ministerial berths were Giriraj Singh, Lok Sabha member from Bihar who had made a controversial statement that the place for those who do not like Modi is in Pakistan and Ram Kripal Yadav, a former RJD leader, who defeated Lalu Prasad’s daughter in Patliputra on BJP ticket. This was the first revamp undertaken by Modi since assuming power in May with the induction of four cabinet ministers, three ministers of state with independent charge and 14 ministers of state.

The strength of the ministry has now gone up from 45 to 66. Of this, 27 including Prime Minister are of Cabinet rank, 13 Ministers of State with independent charge and 26 Ministers of State.