Describing newly-appointed Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as ‘extremely competent’, Union Minister Arun Jaitley, who held the additional charge of Defence Ministry till recently, on Sunday extended his greetings to his successor. “Very significant landmark in this reshuffle is that we now have Nirmala Sitharaman as the new Defence Minister. It is a case where a minister performs well and earns a higher responsibility for herself (Nirmala Sitharaman). I am sure, now that I have an extremely competent successor in Nirmala Sitharaman, she will carry the road forward,” Jaitley said.
The Union Finance Minister added that he would be leaving for Japan tonight to attend the the annual defence ministerial meeting and would continue to hold the security dialogue for the next two days, post which Sitharaman would take the charge.
Appreciating Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jaitley said, “PM Modi has set the bar very high. It’s clear that he is very closely monitoring performance of each ministry and individual.” Read | Modi cabinet reshuffle 2017: Full list of PM Narendra Modi’s Council of Ministers
Jaitley was given the additional charge of Defence Ministry after its former head, Manohar Parrikar was elected Chief Minister of Goa. Calling Sitharaman’s appointment as a well thought decision, Manohar Parrikar said, “Nirmala is very analytical, deep thinking, hard working & very knowledgeable.”
Earlier in the day, Sitharaman, who previously held the portfolio of Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, was appointed as the Defence Minister as part of PM Modi restructuring exercise in the cabinet. She was among the four junior ministers who were handed cabinet berths at the reshuffle.
With this, Sitharaman became the second woman to lead the Defence Ministry after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who held it as additional charge. She was administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan earlier this morning. Read | Nirmala Sitharaman takes charge of Defence, becomes India’s second woman to hold the portfolio
Apart from Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal was given the charge of Railways and has additional charge of the Coal Ministry. Suresh Prabhu, who was earlier the Railway Minister, was allocated Ministry of Commerce. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been allotted the Ministry of Minority Affairs, while Dharmendra Pradhan has been give the Petroleum and Natural Gas porfolio with additional charge of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. Nine other ministers were also inducted as Ministers of State in the Cabinet today morning.
With inputs from ANI