Modi reshuffles Cabinet ahead of UP elections; 7 new women ministers inducted
A pattern across the BJP that one cannot miss is that hardwork, patience and loyalty is rewarded while laxity can show you the door. This is exactly the script that Narendra Modi has followed this time while rebooting his cabinet. Nearly 12 senior ministers, holding key portfolios, have resigned, which includes Ravi Shankar Prasad Prakash Javdekar, Dr. Harsh Vardhan and others.
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 on Wednesday. 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-19 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 Ashwini Vaishnaw, 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 PM Modi’s government for the first time, has been made part of the cabinet with the steel portfolio.
Anurag Singh Thakur, who was a junior minister of finance and corporate affairs, has been given charge of the 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 on Wednesday by Ramesh Pokhriyal, has gone to Dharmendra Pradhan. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has got the charge of the newly-created Ministry of Cooperation.
Additionally, the number of women ministers in Modi’s Cabinet has gone up to 11. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman continues to hold additional charge of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Smriti Irani has now been relieved of the Ministry of Textile and will continue to remain Minister of Women and Child Development (WCD).
Apart from Sitharaman and Irani, BJP leaders Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Renuka Singh Saruta remained untouched by the reshuffle. Jyoti is MoS in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, as well as the Ministry of Rural Development. Saruta, meanwhile, is MOS in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
The seven women members are Shobha Karandlaje, Darshana Vikram Jardosh, Meenakshi Lekhi, Annapurna Devi, Prathima Bhoumik, Dr. Bharti Prawin Pawar and Anupriya Singh Patel.
TEJASWINI PAGADALA is an independent communications consultant. She has previously worked with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Office as the Communications Officer where she has written English speeches for the CM, managed English media communication from the CMO and handled social media accounts of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the Government.