A number of key portfolios – including health, law, information and technology and railways – have gone to new ministers and junior ministers who were elevated in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Council of Ministers that underwent a reboot today. The total strength of the Council of Ministers is now 78, including the Prime Minister.
The current reshuffle has boosted the number of cabinet ministers from 21 to 30 and the number of junior ministers from 23 to 45. There are fewer junior ministers with Independent charge – the figure has dropped from nine to two.
As the country braces for a third wave of Covid following a debilitating second surge, Mansukh Mandaviya has been given the challenge of leading the containment efforts as the head of the crucial health ministry. His junior minister will be Dr Bharati Pawar. In addition, he would retain the Ministry of Chemical Fertilizers.
Newcomer Ashwani Vashnaw, the Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha, has been given charge of the Railways and IT ministry. An MBA from Wharton School, Pennysylvania University and MTech from IIT Kanpur, he has held leadership roles across major global companies such as General Electric and Siemens.
The crucial Law and Justice ministry has gone to Kiren Rijiju, a law graduate who earlier handled the Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ayush ministry and was also the Minister of State for Minority Affairs.
Jyotiraditya Scindia — one of the BJP’s high-profile acquisitions from the Congress — has been given charge of the Civil aviation ministry at a time the sector is struggling under the Covid onslaught. The ministry was once handled by his father Madhavrao Scindia, who died in a plane crash in 2001.
Ramchandra Prasad Singh of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United, which joined the PM Modi’s government for the first time, has been made part of the cabinet with the steel portfolio.
Anurag Singh Thakur, who earlier handled the ministries of finance and corporate affairs, has been given charge of crucial Information and Broadcasting ministry. Additionally, he will handle Youth Affairs and Sports
Sarbananda Sonowal, the former Chief Minister of Assam who handled the Sports and Youth Affairs ministry in the first NDA government, has been given charge of the Ports, Shipping and Waterways portfolio. He will also handle the Ayush ministry.
The Education Ministry, vacated earlier today by Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank”, has gone to Dharmendra Pradhan.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has got the charge of the newly-created Ministry of Cooperation.
Meenakshi Lekhi, once the BJP face in the media, will be the Minister of State in External Affairs and the Culture Ministry.
Parshottam Rupala will handle the Dairies and Fisheries portfolios.
Hardeep Singh Puri will be the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Housing and Urban Affairs.
Pashupati Paras, who leads the splinter group of Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, has been given the Food Processing portfolio.
The Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Labour and Employment ministries have gone to Bhupender Yadav.
G Kishan Reddy will handle the Culture, tourism and Development of the North Eastern Region portfolios.
Forty-four ministers took oath today as part of the first reshuffle in the second stint of the government led by PM Modi. Fifteen of them became part of the Union Cabinet. It was preceded by exits of 12 ministers including high-profile names like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Dr Harshvardhan and Prakash Javadekar, who were seen to be among the core team of the Prime Minister.
The resignations sent out the message that the government’s focus was on performance and drew derision from the Congress, which said it was an admission of the government’s failure on multiple fronts.
Among the 28 Ministers of State, seven are from Uttar Pradesh where the BJP is seeking a second term in the assembly elections due next year.
“I congratulate all the colleagues who have taken oath today and wish them the very best for their ministerial tenure. We will continue working to fulfil aspirations of the people and build a strong and prosperous India,” PM Modi had tweeted after the oath ceremony this evening.