The new Modi government took shape on Friday with BJP President Amit Shah, who played a key role in his party’s electoral triumph, making his debut in the Central government as India’s new Home minister while incumbent Rajnath Singh was moved to Defence.
Joining them in the ‘Big Four’ are NirmalaSitharaman, the outgoing Defence minister, who is India’s new Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, and surprise inductee, former foreign secretary S Jaishankar, who got the External Affairs portfolio.
Both Sitharaman, the first full-time woman Finance minister of India, and Jaishankar, a rare instance of a career diplomat taking charge of the External Affairs ministry, have studied in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.
With the induction of Shah and Jaishankar, there are two new faces in the all-powerful Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which is chaired by Prime Minister NarendraModi and is the final decision-making body on matters related to country’s security, including defence policy and internal security.
Besides the prime minister, the ministers of Defence, Home, External Affairs and Finance are members of the committee.
Sitharaman steps into the shoes of ArunJaitley who opted out of new government on health grounds. She has a deputy in Anurag Thakur, a first time minister in the Modi government. Both are considered close to Jaitley.
The prime minister retains the Department of Personnel and Training, Atomic Energy and Space as well as all important policy issues and portfolios not allocated.
Modi was sworn in on Thursday as prime minister for a second term, helming a 58-member team of ministers.
Giant slayer SmritiIrani, who defeated Congress President Rahul Gandhi in his family bastion of Amethi, is the new Women and Child Development minister along with retaining the Textile ministry, according to a communiqué issued by the RashtrapatiBhavan.
NitinGadkari, considered one of the best performers during the first term of Modi government for his expeditious project implementation, continues to be the minister for Road Transport and Highways and has also been given charge of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
PiyushGoyal, who was presented the interim budget earlier this year and was expected to take over from Jaitley, has been given the Commerce and Industry ministry in addition to his old charge of Railways. However, the Coal ministry has been taken away from him and given to Pralhad Joshi, a new entrant in Modi Government.
Joshi is also the minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Mines.
Goyal said improving passenger experience and modernising the railways will be his focus areas.
“I am happy that there will be continuity in the work that we had begun in the first stint. The many work that we have started will be continued. I hope that we will be able to improve the passenger experience as well as the process of loading of goods,” Goyal said.
Ravi Shankar Prasad continues as minister of Law and Information Technology. He also gets Telecom, a portfolio he commanded in the first half of Modi 1.0 government.
A new Ministry of Jal Shakti has been created and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is its minister.
Ujjwala-man Dharmendra Pradhan retains his Petroleum portfolio and has also been given charge of the Steel ministry.
Former Uttarkhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank’ is the new Human Resource Development minister while Bihar ally and LokJanshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswam remains Consumer Affairs minister.
The Agriculture ministry has been allocated to Narendra Singh Tomar who also gets the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj portfolio.
Prakash Javadekar has been given the ministries of Information and Broadcasting as well as Environment.
D V SadanandaGowda is the minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers and Narendra Singh Tomar the new minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal continues to be the minister of Food Processing Industries, Thawar Chand Gehlot is the new minister of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Former diplomat HardeepPuri is the new minister of state with Independent charge of Civil Aviation while former IAS bureaucrat R K Singh retains the ministries of Power and Renewable Energy in the same capacity.
Eight-term BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh Santosh Kumar Gangwar is MoS with Independent charge for Labour and Employment. The BJP capped a massive mandate by winning a total of 303 seats while the NDA has 353 MPs in the recently elected 17th LokSabha.