Narendra Damodardas Modi was sworn in as 15th Prime Minister for a second five-year term in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday. He took oath along with his new council of ministers at 7 pm.
With more than 6,000 guests, the swearing-in ceremony includes leaders from the BIMSTEC countries, opposition leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, chief ministers, corporate honchos and film stars.
As the Modi-led government returns to power, we take a look at the profiles of the Prime Minister, his new council of ministers and their profiles.
Narendra Modi —Prime Minister
Modi, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), represents the Varanasi constituency in Parliament. He is the first non-Congress prime minister to win two consecutive terms with a full majority, and the second one to complete five years in office after Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Born to a Gujarati family in Vadnagar, the 68-year-old has come a long way from his humble roots. He completed his higher secondary education in Vadnagar in 1967. According to his affidavit filed with the Election Commission, Modi has an MA degree from Gujarat University in 1983 and is an arts graduate from Delhi University.
Before assuming the coveted position, Modi served as the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014. While his tenure as Gujarat CM was often credited for its economic growth, his administration was accused of complicity in the 2002 Gujarat riots and criticised for failing to improve health, poverty, and education indices in the state significantly.
In the 2014 general election, Modi led the BJP to a landslide victory as the saffron party secured a majority of its own, the first time for any single party since 1984. While his first term as PM was praised for high-profile sanitation campaign and improving efficiency in the bureaucracy, his administration was criticised for demonetisation of high-denomination banknotes and hasty implementation of Goods and Services Tax. In the recently-held 2019 elections, Modi rode a wave of nationalism and his popularity as the BJP swept the elections with a bigger mandate than 2014 by winning a total of 303 seats.
Rajnath Singh — Defence Minister
A veteran BJP warhorse, Rajnath Singh held the crucial Home Ministry in the previous Narendra Modi government. His political career spans more than four decades, ever since he rose from being a swayamsevak in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, even serving as a Cabinet minister in the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
It was in 1969 that Singh began his political innings with the BJP’s student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Deeply inspired by socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan, he was an active participant of his movement against the Indira Gandhi government in the 1970s and was also imprisoned during the Emergency.
First elected to the UP Assembly from Mirzapur in 1977, it was in 1991 that he was appointed as the first education minister in the first BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. It was during this period that Singh had courted controversy by enacting the Anti-Copying Act which had opposition parties up in arms against him.
Although active in UP politics for long, Singh’s entry into Parliament came only in 1994 when he was given a Rajya Sabha ticket. In 1997, he took charge of the entire state unit and in 1999, he was elected as the Union Cabinet Minister for Surface Transport.
Rising step by step, Singh was inducted as the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister in 2000 and was elected twice from the Haidargarh constituency in Barabanki as MLA. During his tenure, he tried to rationalise the reservation structure in government jobs by introducing the most Backward Classes among the Other Backward Classes and Scheduled Caste to ensure the benefit of reservation was available to the lowest status of society.
After the BJP’s dismal performance in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, Singh sought to rebuild the party on the Hindutva ideology and announced a “no compromise” in the construction of the Ram Temple at the disputed Ayodhya site.
In 2005, he was appointed as the national president of the saffron party, a post he held till 2009. In 2013, following Nitin Gadkari’s resignation due to corruption charges, Singh was re-elected as the party president.
In 2014, the senior BJP leader contested the general elections from the Lucknow constituency and was subsequently elected as a Member of Parliament. He was appointed the Union Minister of Home Affairs in the Narendra Modi government.
Amit Shah — Home Minister
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most trusted lieutenant and BJP chief, Amit Shah, who steered the party to a grand victory in the Lok Sabha polls, has decided to join the new government. Shah, who contested and won from the Gandhinagar constituency in Gujarat – a bastion of party veteran LK Advani – has been at the helm of party’s affairs ever since PM Modi joined office in 2014. Shah won by a margin of 5.57 lakh votes, defeating his Congress rival C J Chavda. In the 2014 general elections, BJP veteran L K Advani, 91, had won the seat.
Amit Shah’s political career soared after he was made UP in-charge ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Under him, BJP won 73 out of 80 parliamentary seats and, in July 2014, he was appointed BJP’s national president, replacing Rajnath Singh. His social engineering prowess came to the fore once again when the party won the UP Assembly elections after a gap of 15 years.
Shah was first elected in Gujarat as the MLA for a seat partly covering Ahmedabad, Sarkhej in 1997 (a by-election) holding it in 1998, 2002 and 2007 until the seat’s 2008 dissolution, then for nearby Naranpura, from 2012-2017.
Shah’s decision to contest the Lok Sabha polls this year was seen as his effort to demonstrate that he was willing to lead from the front and also to energise the BJP cadres in Gujarat where the party had won all 26 seats in 2014 but had seen its rivals growing in strength since. Known to be a close confidant of Modi since his Gujarat days, Shah spearheaded the party’s national campaign. BJP alone won 303 seats in the 543-member house. In states like West Bengal, BJP won 18 seats, only four less than the Trinamool Congress which won 22. Shah is also attributed to maintaining the BJP’s relations with allies like the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, and the JD(U) in Bihar.
Born to a wealthy Baniya family in Mumbai, Amit Shah joined the RSS at the age of 14. He met Narendra Modi for the first time in 1982 and became the secretary of the RSS’ student body, ABVP, that year. He joined the BJP in 1986 and gradually rose through the ranks. In 1995, Shah was elected, for the first time, as MLA from Sarkhej assembly constituency in Gujarat. He was re-elected from the same constituency in 1998 and 2002 and given multiple ministerial portfolios (home, panchayati raj, prohibition, transport) during Modi’s tenure as chief minister.
In 2010, Amit Shah was accused of having orchestrated the extrajudicial killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kauser Bi and Sheikh’s aide Tulsiram Prajapati. He was later given a clean chit in the case by the CBI.
Nitin Gadkari — Minister of Road Transport and Highways
Considered to be close to the RSS, Nitin Gadkari is the BJP MP from Nagpur. He was re-elected to the seat after defeating Congress’ Nana Patole in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The 61-year-old held two ministries in the previous Modi government – the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and the Ministry of Shipping. In 2017, he was given the additional charge of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
During his days as a student, Gadkari was involved with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP). He became a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council in 1989. In 1995, he took charge as the PWD Minister in Maharashtra. As Public Works minister, he built the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and a host of other flyovers and highways in the state. He was also the leader of the opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council from 1999-2005.
Gadkari was appointed as the national president of the BJP in 2009, becoming the youngest ever party president. He was also appointed as the Chairman of National Rural Road Development Committee under the Vajpayee government. It is based on this committee’s recommendations that a new rural road connecting scheme now popularly known as Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was launched. He quit as the BJP chief in 2013 and subsequently won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Gadkari also heads a business empire with interests in cooperative sugar factories and power plants in Maharashtra.
Nirmala Sitharaman — Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs
Nirmala Sitharaman, who hails from Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, held the important portfolio of Commerce & Industry before being elevated to the Defence. She became the second woman to assume the charge of the Defence Ministry as former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had also held the portfolio in the seventies.
Sitharaman joined the BJP in 2006 on the recommendation of former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. She came in contact with Swaraj during her days at the National Commission for Women where she was a member between 2003-2005. In 2010 Sitharaman was elected as the national spokesperson for the saffron party defending its position and attacking the UPA government at regular intervals.
Following the mammoth triumph of the BJP in 2014 under Modi, Sitharaman got a ministerial berth and was made Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ministry of Commerce & Industry. Three years later in September 2017, Sitharaman was handed the Defence portfolio after then Raksha Mantri (RM) late Manohar Parrikar was sent to Goa.
During her tenure as Defence Minister, Sitharaman has been actively involved in the modernisation of forces and safeguarding the ambitious Rafale deal which came under the scanner after the opposition alleged massive corruption on part of the Modi government.
As a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), she was part of the action taken in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. Toeing the government line, she has vigorously defended the Balakote air strikes.
Ravi Shankar Prasad — Minister of Law and Justice
Making his debut in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Ravi Shankar Prasad defeated former BJP leader and Congress candidate Shatrughan Sinha from Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat in Bihar by a margin of over 2.84 lakh votes.
Having served multiple times in Parliament under the two prime ministers – Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi – from his party, the senior advocate of the Supreme Court has always held crucial positions both in the Cabinet and in the party. He was a minister in the Vajpayee government and became a cabinet minister under Narendra Modi in 2014.
A Rajya Sabha member since 2000, Ravi Shankar took the political plunge via students’ politics during the 1970s when he protested against the Indira Gandhi government and was also put behind bars during Emergency. He participated in the student movement in Bihar under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan and was an active volunteer of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). He was associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and ABVP for many years and held various posts in the organisations.
It was in 2001 that Ravi Shankar became the Minister of State in the Ministry of Coal and Mines. A year later, he was made minister for Law and Justice. In 2006, he not only became a Rajya Sabha member but also went on to become BJP’s national spokesperson and then the Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha in 2012.
In 2014, Ravi Shankar took oath as Minister of Communications and Information Technology and Minister of Law and Justice. In his tenure as the IT minister, he encouraged several mobile companies to manufacture under the Modi government’s flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative.
S Jaishankar — External Affairs Minister
Former foreign secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is set to be part of the new Narendra Modi government. With the new responsibility, Jaishankar becomes part of a long line of career diplomats taking the political plunge. The former US Ambassador has been one of the most active diplomats in the Modi government and steered the government’s agenda across the world.
A 1977 batch Indian Foreign Officer, Jaishankar has previously served as Indian ambassador to US (2014-15), China (2009-13) among other European nations, and had a major role in the negotiation of the ambitious India-US civil nuclear agreement. The longest-serving foreign secretary is credited for forming the crux of Modi’s foreign policy in his first term as the prime minister.
Jaishankar also had a pivotal role in ending the Doklam crisis between India and China which took the two nations on a brink of war in Arunachal Pradesh. During his tenure in Beijing, Jaishankar helped India improve ties with China in trade, border and cultural relations.
Upon retirement from diplomacy, Jaishankar joined Tata Sons as President, Global Corporate Affairs. He was conferred the Padma Shree in 2019.
Smriti Irani — Minister of Women and Child Development, Minister of Textiles
Smriti Irani, who served as the textile minister in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government, fought the most fascinating elections in 2019. Creating history, Irani defeated three-time parliamentarian and Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress has not lost Amethi in the last three decades, except in 1998. This is also Irani’s first electoral victory.
In 2014, after Irani lost to Gandhi in the same seat, she was appointed as the Union Minister for Human Resource Development. In 2016, however, she was moved out in a cabinet reshuffle and was made the Minister of Textiles. Later, in 2017, she was also handed over the charge of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. She lost that portfolio in just about a year.
Through her tenure, Irani had made headlines over her controversial educational qualification.
Irani, a former model and actor, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2004, when she unsuccessfully contested the 14th Lok Sabha elections against Kapil Sibal from the Chandni Chowk constituency in Delhi and was, later, nominated as an executive member of the central committee of the BJP.
The 43-year-old Irani became a member of the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in 2011.
Prakash Javadekar — Minister of Environment, Forest, Climate change and I&B Minister
Prakash Javadekar is a senior BJP leader from Maharashtra and is the incumbent Minister of Human Resource and Development in the Union Government. Javadekar is a Member of Rajya Sabha representing the state of Madhya Pradesh from June 2014 onwards.
Previously, Javadekar has also been at important roles in the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change as well as the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting where he held the position as the Minister of State (Independent Charge). Javadekar has also served within Parliamentary Standing Committees of Defence, HRD and Consultative Committee of Power.
Before assuming roles in the Union government Javadekar served BJP by being a veteran spokesperson for his party for a period of 11 years. Javadekar has also led the Indian delegation to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. In his college days, Javadekar worked as a student activist with the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)- the student wing of RSS.
Javadekar has also held significant positions in Maharashtra government in the 90s. He was Executive Chairman of the State Planning Board, Maharashtra between 1995 and 1999.
On 31 May 2012, based on Javadekar’s complaints about multiple irregularities in coal mining during Congress’ tenure in the union government, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) directed a CBI enquiry.
Piyush Goyal — Minister of Railways, Minister of Commerce and Industry
A Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra, Piyush Goyal was inducted as Minister of State into the Modi Cabinet in 2014 but was elevated as Cabinet Minister in 2017 when he was given the Railways charge. Goyal also held the additional charge of Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Corporate Affairs for a brief period in 2018-19 when Arun Jaitley was unwell. He is also the Minister of Coal.
Goyal belongs to a political family – his mother Chandrakanta Goyal was elected thrice to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and his father late Vedprakash Goyal was Union Minister of Shipping, and the National Treasurer of the BJP for over two decades. Starting off as an investment banker, Goyal later followed the footsteps of his parents and joined politics.
Goyal headed the BJP’s Information Communication Campaign Committee and oversaw the campaign of the party including the social media outreach during 2014 elections. Before this, Goyal was the National Treasurer of the Party.
During his stint as the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy, Goyal rolled out the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme to revive debt-ridden power distribution companies and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) to improve India’s energy access. He also worked for energy efficiency in the country through Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All (UJALA) scheme and helped in reducing the prices of LED bulbs. In 2018, Goyal was presented with the fourth Carnot prize in recognition of his work on energy policy in India.
Hailed as being gifted with numbers, Goyal is an all-India second rank holder chartered accountant and second rank holder in law from Mumbai University.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi — Minister of Minority Affairs
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was the lone Muslim face in the previous Narendra Modi government and was also part of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet. In 1998-99, he was made the Minister of State in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting with the additional charge of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. He is currently representing Jharkhand in Rajya Sabha.
Naqvi has been in active politics since his college days where he was part of student unions and first contested election unsuccessfully in 1980 under the Janata Party. Naqvi was made the National Secretary of the BJP in 2000 and was later sent to Rajya Sabha in 2002. He has been part of several Parliamentary committees including Finance, Commerce, Information Technology. He was also the member of Committee on External Affairs between 2004-2008.
In 2014, when Narendra Modi came to power with a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections, Naqvi was given another ministerial position. He was made the Minister of State Minority Affairs, this was elevated into an independent charge in July 2016 after then minister Najma Heptullah resigned.
Arvind Sawant — Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise
A trade unionist and a Shiv Sena leader, Arvind Sawant was a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council for two terms- from 1996 to 2010. He defeated Milind Deora of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections. Sawant will replace Anant Geete, the lone Sena minister in the previous Narendra Modi-led government, who lost from the Raigad Lok Sabha seat in last month’s election.
The Sena leader, who retained his seat by defeating Deora by 1,00,067 votes, has been associated with the Shiv Sena since the party’s early years. He worked as an engineer with Mahanagar Telephone Network Ltd (MTNL) till 1995 and took voluntary retirement after he was nominated to the Maharashtra Legislative Council from governor’s quota when Shiv Sena-BJP government came to power in 1995.
He was elected as MLC from the Mumbai Local bodies constituency. He contested the Lok Sabha election for the first time in 2014, defeating Deora, then an MP, from the Mumbai South seat by 1,28,564 votes. Sawant is a deputy leader of the Shiv Sena, and also president of the MTNL trade union.
Kiren Rijiju — MoS in Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Mos in Ministry of Minority Affairs
Known as BJP’s face in the Northeast, Kiren Rijiju was the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs in the previous Modi government.
Rijiju was among the young BJP leaders who led the Modi government’s charge in the nationalism debate and against accusations of intolerance. He had said, “The debate of intolerance is misplaced. Some people are so desperate that their ideology is being discarded, they are not getting the support of the majority people, so they try to create a debate. This debate (intolerance) doesn’t hold any ground….there is absolute right for dissent, disagreement and to criticize the government also”.
Last year, in August, he told the Lok Sabha during question hour, that people from the Rohingya ‘community living in India have been involved in illegal activities’. While, in 2017, the 47-year-old, invited criticism when he said that the “Rohingya are illegal immigrants and stand to be deported”.
A lawyer-turned-politician, Rijiju was elected twice as a member of the Lok Sabha – in 2004 and 2014 general elections. Prior to his election to the Lok Sabha, he was a member in the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, Government of India.
Sadananda Gowda — Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers
In the previous Modi cabinet, Sadananda Gowda held three portfolios — Minister of Railways, Minister of Law, and Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
The former Karnataka chief minister, who won from high-profile North Bangalore constituency in the Lok Sabha polls, is an LLB graduate. Gowda started his career in politics in the 80s with the Jan Sangh. After the split of the Janata Party, he became a member of the BJP. Later on, he served the BJP as Dakshina Kannada BJP Yuva Morcha President, Dakshina Kannada BJP Vice-President, State BJP Yuva Morcha Secretary (1983–88), state BJP Secretary (2003–04) and National Secretary of the party (2004).
He won the state assembly elections from Puttur in 1994 and 1999, and continued as the deputy leader of opposition in the Assembly from 2004 to 2009.
Gowda became the chief minister of Karnataka in August 2011 following the resignation BS Yeddyurappa over corruption allegations.
On 26 May 2014, Sadananda Gowda was sworn in as a cabinet minister in PM Modi’s government.
During his stint as Karnataka Chief Minister, he had introduced various schemes such as Sakaala, aimed at providing time-bound services at government offices. He was also known to support various city infrastructure projects during his tenure.
Ramdas Athawale — MoS in Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
A popular Dalit face and chief of the Republican Party of India (RPI), Ramdas Athawale was the minister for social justice and empowerment in the previous Narendra Modi government. Athawale is a Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra.
He lost the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and in 2011 left the NCP-Congress alliance. He led the RPI and associated himself with the Shiv Sena. He was a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council from 1990 to 1996 and was Cabinet Minister for Social Welfare and Transport, Employment Guarantee Scheme and Prohibition Propaganda in the Government of Maharashtra between 1990-95. In 1998, he represented the Mumbai North Central in the 12th Lok Sabha. He was re-elected in 1999.
Athawale, a known face of the Dalit community, had once demanded firearms for the marginalised group so they could use them for self-defence and in the fight against oppression. In 2014, Athawale was elected to the Rajya Sabha and became Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, working under Thawar Chand Gehlot.
Babul Supriyo — MoS in Ministry of Environment, Forest, Climate Change
Babul Supriyo was the Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in the previous Narendra Modi government. Supriyo was inducted into the Bharatiya Janata Party in March 2014 and went on to win West Bengal’s Asansol constituency in 2014.
Supriyo has also served in the capacity of Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Urban Development as well as Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
Supriyo defeated Trinamool Congress’ Moon Moon Sen in the recently conducted Lok Sabha elections.
Supriyo led the BJP’s campaign in south Bengal and locked horns with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He has landed into controversies for making coloured remarks against his political adversaries.
Anurag Thakur — MoS Finance and Corporate Affairs
Anurag Singh Thakur, who won the Lok Sabha election from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh is set to be part of the new Cabinet under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Son of former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Anurag was first elected to Parliament in a bypoll in 2008. He has been a three-time MP from the state and has also served as president for Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Thakur, however, had to step down from the BCCI top post after an order from the Supreme Court.
Thakur, who is one of the youngest legislatures in Parliament was awarded the Best Young Parliamentarian Award in 2011. He was appointed as the chief whip of Lok Sabha in July 2018. Before joining politics, Anurag was a cricketer and had played the Ranji trophy in 2000 while being the president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA).
An officer in the Territorial Army, Anurag is the first serving BJP MP to become a regular commissioned officer in the armed forces.
In a bid to ensure accessible menstrual hygiene for women, Thakur had also launched a campaign to provide affordable sanitary napkins in his constituency. “It is unfortunate that even today when women of this country are attaining great heights, there is still a huge female population, girls and women, who do not have access to basic health needs such as sanitary napkins,” Thakur had said.
Ram Vilas Paswan — Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan has served as a minister in the cabinets of six prime ministers. The LJP chief, who took oath as Cabinet Minister in the Narendra Modi government on Wednesday, started his political career as a member of the Bihar legislative assembly in the 1960s. The septuagenarian shot to fame in the 1977 post-Emergency Lok Sabha polls when he won Hajipur seat by over four lakh votes. Another victory in 1989 earned him his first stint in the cabinet of V P Singh, who appointed him as labour minister.
Less than a decade later, he was back as railway minister in successive governments headed by H D Deve Gowda and I K Gujaral. The Janata Dal faction, with which he was associated in the 1990s, sided with the BJP-led NDA and Paswan was made the minister for communications, and later coal in the government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
However, the Gujarat riots of 2002 saw him quit the NDA in protest and gravitate towards the Congress-led UPA, which came to power two years later. He was appointed the minister for chemicals and fertilizers and steel under Manmohan Singh.
Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP welcomed him with open arms and offered him seven seats to contest. The LJP won six, including Paswan, his son Chirag and brother Ram Chandra. As the minister for food and public distribution and consumer affairs under Narendra Modi, Paswan made his mark as a stout votary of the government whenever it came under attack on issues of social justice.
Paswan did not contest the Lok Sabha elections following an assurance from the BJP that he will be elected to the Rajya Sabha. He is now set to enter the Upper House, most likely from Bihar.
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