India : PM Modi Expands Council of Ministers
New Delhi: Environment minister Prakash Javadekar was the first to take oath in a crucial expansion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers on Tuesday morning. He has been promoted to Cabinet rank. 19 new ministers were sworn in after him.
Five ministers have resigned to make way for the new entrants as the council of ministers can have a maximum 82. There are now 80 ministers. Those dropped today are Nihal Chand, Ram Shankar Katheria, Sanwar Lal Jat, Manuskhbhai D Vasva and M K Kundariya, all from the BJP.The new ministers are – Faggan Singh Kulaste, SS Ahluwalia, Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi, Vijay Goel, Rajen Gohain, Anil Madhav Dave, Parshottam Rupala, MJ Akbar, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Jasvantsinh Bhabhor, Mahendra Nath Pandey, Ajay Tamta, Krishna Raj, Mansukh Mandaviya, CR Chaudhary, PP Chaudhary and Subhash Bhamre – all from the BJP – and Anupriya Singh Patel from the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh ally Apna Dal and Ramdas Athawale of RPI.
The ministries they will be assigned and other portfolio changes in PM Modi’s council of ministers are expected to be announced later today.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley may give up the critical Information and Broadcasting ministry, as PM Modi wants to reduce his workload, sources indicated. Mr Jaitley heads three major ministries. PM Modi also has to appoint a new sports minister.
All the new ministers will be junior ministers or ministers of state and not of cabinet rank, though some may be given independent charge of their ministries.
The new ministers were chosen in an exhaustive vetting process based on a selection framework from the Prime Minister, sources said. He wanted “doers and performers” who can “deliver on his vision of development and priorities – gaon, garib and kisan (village, the poor and the farmer).”
The list of new ministers has an advocate in PP Chaudhary, a surgeon, Subhash Bhamre, an editor, MJ Akbar, a former bureaucrat Arjun Ram Meghwal and a writer and conservationist Anil Madhav Dave.
The list also reveals a careful balance of caste, social and regional considerations. Two new ministers – Jasvantsinh Bhabhor and Faggan Singh Kulaste – belong to Scheduled Tribes and five to Scheduled Castes — Ajay Tamta, Ramdas Athalwale, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Ramesh Jigajinagi and Krishna Raj. There are two minority leaders – MJ Akbar and SS Ahluwalia – and two women — Anupriya Singh Patel and Krishna Raj.
The ministers come from 10 states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Assam. There are three each from UP and Gujarat, and one from Uttarakhand – all states where elections will be held next year.
The new ministers had met Amit Shah at his Delhi home in a series of appointments through Monday. In the evening, Mr Shah had visited the office of his party’s ideological mentor – the RSS or Rashtryia Swayamsevak Sangh- to seek its endorsement of the new list.