Forty-three new ministers will be sworn-in this evening as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to revamp his administration that has been heavily criticised over the handling of the coronavirus crisis, soaring prices and resentment from several sections.
The names in the cabinet reshuffle include several new entrants as well as existing ministers who will be reassigned.
In an unexpected move, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who held key portfolios of law and information technology, and Prakash Javadekar, the minister for environment, information and broadcasting and heavy industries, stepped down.
Also among the top ministers who were asked resign was Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, paying the political price for the government’s struggles to cope with a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections.
The “big four” ministers for finance, foreign affairs, home and defence, however, are unlikely to be changed.
Before announcing his first cabinet reshuffle since winning a second term in 2019, PM Modi consulted leaders of his BJP, a government official said.
Government sources said the Prime Minister had been aiming to include younger members of his party to be ministers and also give greater representation to women and backward classes – a crucial consideration ahead of important state elections starting with Uttar Pradesh early next year.
There are plans for a ceremony to swear in new ministers at the Rashtrapati Bhavan at 6 pm. Only a small number of people will be attending the ceremony due to the coronavirus risk.
PM Modi’s government has faced its most stinging criticism in years as the infections and deaths surged in April and May, overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums.
Images of bodies of presumed COVID-19 victims washed up on the banks of the Ganges river fuelled outrage over a failure to do more to protect vulnerable communities.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram was among the first to comment on the changes.
“The resignations of the Union Health Minister and the MoS (Minister of State) Health is a candid confession that the Modi government has utterly failed in managing the pandemic,” Mr Chidambaram tweeted.
“There is a lesson for ministers in these resignations. If things go right the credit will go to the PM, if things go wrong the Minister will be the fall guy. That is the price a Minister pays for implicit obedience and unquestioning subservience,” he wrote.
Here is the list of ministers who will take oath on Wednesday for their new departments:
1. Narayan Rane
2. Sarbananda Sonowal
3. Dr. Virendra Kumar
4. Jyotiraditya M Scindia
5. Ramchandra Prasad Singh
6. Ashwini Vaishnaw
7. Pashupati Paras
8. Kiren Rijiju
9. Raj Kumar Singh
10.Hardeep Singh Puri
14.G. Kishan Reddy
15.Anurag Singh Thakur
17. Anupriya Singh Patel
18.Dr. Satya Pal Singh Baghel
19. Rajeev Chandrasekhar
21.Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma
22. Darshana Vikram Jardosh
23. Meenakshi Lekhi
24. Annapurna Devi
28.B. L. Verma
32.Kapil Moreshwar Patil
34.Dr. Subhas Sarkar
35.Dr. Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad
36.Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh
37.Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar
40.Dr. Munjapara Mahendrabhai
42.Dr. L. Murugan