Amidst the Covid-19 alleged mismanagement, Twitter & Farmer’s controversies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, July 07 went ahead with an overhaul and expansion of his council of ministers. The Union Cabinet saw a total of 43 parliamentarians taking oath at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi. With the addition of 36 new faces and the exit of 12 sitting ministers, the Modi Cabinet currently stands at 78 (including PM) out of the statutory limit of 81.
The Exit of Big Guns
BJP heavyweights like Ravi Shankar Prasad (Law Minister), Prakash Javadekar (I & B Minister), Ramesh Pokhriyal (Education Minister), and Dr Harshvardhan (Health Minister) became a part of the 12 outgoing ministers.
This also includes Babul Supriyo, Sadananda Gowda, Santosh Gangwar, Debasree Chaudhuri, Rattan Lal Kataria, Sanjay Dhotre, Thawarchand Gehlot, and Pratap Chandra Sarangi (MoS).
The one that caught the eye of everyone was the resignation of Dr Harshvardhan from the previous group of 58 ministers. It comes at a time when the government has been under fire for mismanagement of the pandemic. Also when the opposition Congress released a white paper accusing the Modi government of the same.
While taking a jibe at resignations, Congress’ communications department head Randeep Surjewala claimed that Dr. Harshvardhan was being made the scapegoat for the catastrophic mismanagement of the Second Wave of Coronavirus.
“…the first person to be sacked should be the prime minister for he has brought the country to standstill…” Surjewala added while attacking PM Modi for the cabinet reshuffle.
New Entrants In Union Cabinet
The reshuffle of the Modi cabinet brought in former CMs Sarbananda Sonowal who got portfolios of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, as well as AYUSH. Along with Narayan Rane from Maharashtra who is now the Minister of MSMEs.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, who left the Congress last year and brought BJP back to power in Madhya Pradesh, was among the first ones to take oath as Cabinet minister. He got the same portfolio of Civil Aviation that was once held by his father, Madhavrao Scindia.
The grassroots leader Bhupendra Yadav got the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate change as well as the Labour & Employment Ministry. Both were vacated by the resignation of Javdekar & Gangwar respectively.
Ashwini Vaishnaw, a Rajya Sabha MP for Odisha, an IITian, and a former IAS officer has been handed over the command of Railways as well as the Ministry of Information and Technology.
A total of eight new leaders took an oath as Union Ministers including Ramchandra Prasad Singh of JDU, Pashupati Kumar Paras of LJP, and Virendra Kumar from Madhya Pradesh.
Elevation of 7 MoS to Cabinet Ranks
While many of the minister’s resignations came as a surprise, some of the previous cabinet or state ministers were promoted in this new reshuffle. Former juniors in team Modi; Kiren Rijiju & Anurag Thakur, both were awarded their ranks as per their performance as state ministers. Rijiju stepped in as Law Minister while Thakur got two portfolios i.e, I&B and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
R K Singh performed well as Minister of States in Power; New & Renewable energy ministries as a result he got promotion as Union Minister for the same.
Hardeep Singh Puri who handled the Civil Aviation and steered the central vista project smoothly got the command of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Housing & Urban Affairs Ministry.
The Prime Minister bolstered Gujarat ahead of 2022 polls by promoting two young leaders Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala as Cabinet Ministers. They got Health & Family welfare; Chemicals & Fertilizers Ministry and Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandries respectively.
G Kishan Reddy an established name from Telangana has been allotted three portfolios that are Culture; Tourism; Development of North East Region.
Highest Number Of Women Ministers Since 2004
Taking the total number of women ministers in the cabinet to 11, that includes the likes of Nirmala Sitaraman and Smriti Irani. PM Modi on Wednesday welcomed seven women as Minister of State in his government.
Supreme Court lawyer and upfront speaker for the party (BJP) and the government, Meenakshi Lekhi MP from Delhi, Darshana Vikram Jardosh three-timer from Surat, Anupriya Singh of Apna Dal, and MP from Mirzapur, Shobha Karandlaje from Karnataka a close aide of Yediyurappa took charges as Junior Ministers in different portfolios.
Annapurna Devi MP for Kodarma, Pratima Bhoumik from Tripura West, Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar MP from Maharashtra’s Dindori, all of them first time MPs also took oath office.
“I congratulate all the colleagues who have taken an 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” tweeted Prime minister Narendra Modi after the oath-taking ceremony.