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Highest since 2004: Seven more women ministers inducted, total 11

Both terms of the Manmohan Singh-led governments had 10 women ministers each.

President Ram Nath Kovind administers oath of office and secrecy to Cabinet minister Anupriya Singh Patel on Wednesday. (Photo: PTI)

With the reshuffle on Wednesday, the Narendra Modi government has nearly doubled the number of women ministers since the first term. The strength has moved from six in the previous term to 11 – the highest number of women ministers in the Union government since 2004.

Both terms of the Manmohan Singh-led governments had 10 women ministers each.

As many as seven new women ministers were inducted in the government on Wednesday, apart from existing Cabinet ministers Nirmala Sitaraman and Smriti Irani, and Ministers of State Sadhavi Niranjan Jyoti and Renuka Singh.

The new women ministers accommodated factors such as caste, tribe and the urban-rural divide.

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The inclusion of more women ministers comes close on the heels of two recent assembly elections, where women largely influenced the outcome of the results in favour of the ruling parties in the states. While Nitish Kumar managed to retain his female vote base in Bihar, Mamata Banerjee registered a landslide victory in West Bengal despite a stiff fight from the BJP.

With women voters being seen as an emerging constituency, the move to induct from women ministers appears to be a course correction by the BJP ahead of the 2024 general elections.

After the ministry reshuffle was announced, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said on Twitter: “Youngest in the history of India having significant representation of women ministers…” The Council of Ministers reflects the Prime Minister’s “commitment towards women-led development & fulfilling aspirations of a New AatmaNirbhar Bharat”, she said.

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Among the prominent ministers are Anupriya Singh Patel, the MP from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, who belongs to BJP ally Apna Dal. With the Uttar Pradesh elections around the corner, this is the 40-year-old’s second stint in the Modi government. In the first term, she served as MoS Health. An MBA from Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj University in Kanpur, Patel used to work as a Professor at Amity University before joining politics.

Another prominent face is Shobha Karandlaje, 54, the MP from Udupi Chikmagalur in Karnataka. A two-time MP, she has been in public life for 30 years. Earlier, she was a cabinet minister in the Karnataka government and considered to be close to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.

Known for vociferous views on Hindutva, she replaces D Sadananda Gowda as a representative from the southern state.

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Three-term MP Darshana Vikram Jardosh, 60, has been rewarded for winning in Surat at a time when the BJP faced a threat from the Patel-Patidar movement, which influenced rural Gujarat. In the past, she was a corporator with Surat municipal corporation as well as a member of the Gujarat Social Welfare Board. She has had 40 years in public life and is also the director of an art and culture organisation called Sanskruti.

Another prominent face is Meenakshi Lekhi, 54, second term MP from New Delhi. A Supreme Court lawyer by profession, Lekhi studied LLB from Delhi University.

Among others are Annapurna Devi, 51, the MP from Koderma in Jharkhand; Pratima Bhowmik, 52, MP from Tripura West; and Bharti Praveen Pawar, 42, MP from Dindori in Maharashtra.

First published on: 08-07-2021 at 02:53:30 am
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