Days after expanding the Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Narenda Modi on Tuesday has reconstituted the Cabinet committees, trimmed down the powerful Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), and brought in new faces into the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA).
But surprisingly, crucial ministries are not represented in the CCEA while the CCPA does not include ministers belonging to alliance partners, Dalit and minority communities.
Union Ministers Smriti Irani, Giriraj Singh, Mansukh Mandaviya, Bhupender Yadav and Sarbananda Sonowal are the new additions in the crucial CCPA headed by Prime Minister Modi. Mandaviya was elevated to cabinet rank and has been given charge of Health and Family Welfare; and Chemicals and Fertilizers in the reshuffle that took place last week.
While the previous CCEA had 11 members including Harsimrat Kaur of the SAD, the new panel has only eight members. Rajnath Singh (Defence), Amit Shah (Home), Nitin Gadkari ( Road Transport and Highways), Nirmala Sitharaman (Finance and Corporate Affairs) Narendra Singh Tomar (Agriculture and Farmers Welfare), S Jaishankar (External Affairs), Piyush Goyal (Commerce and Industry and Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Textiles) and Dharmendra Pradhan (Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship) are the new members.
Interestingly, at a time when the government declared that its policies are aimed at improving the rural economy, the Ministry of Rural Development is not a part of the CCEA, the most crucial cabinet committee that takes decisions linked to the economy. The Railways, the ministry with the biggest capital outlay, and the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change are also not included in the committee.
In the CCPA, apart from Irani, Giriraj Singh, Yadav and Sonowal, Modi included Rajnath Singh, Shah, Gadkari, Sitharaman, Tomar, Goyal, Pralhad Joshi (Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mines). Although the number of members in the CCPA remains the same, the newly constituted one does not have any representatives from the alliance partners. The earlier one had Sukhbir Singh Badal, Ram Vilas Paswan (also represented Dalit community) and Arvind Sawant. Both Badal’s Shiromani Akali Dal and Sawant’s Shiv Sena had quit the NDA last year.
While Rajnath, Shah and Sitharaman are members of every committee, Goyal is on the most number of panels — Cabinet Committee on Accommodation, CCEA, CCPA, Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth and Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development.
The composition of the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet, which takes calls on all important appointments in the government from the rank of Joint Secretary and above, and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) – the highest decision making body on security affairs – remain the same. Both Modi and Shah are members of the first and CCS continues to have Modi, Rajnath Singh, Shah, Sitharaman and Jaishankar.
Union Ministers Virendra Kumar, Kiren Rijiju and Anurag Singh Thakur have been included in the rejigged Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, according to a notification issued by the Cabinet Secretariat last night. Ministers of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal and V. Muraleedharan are special invitees.
The new members of the Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth headed by the Prime Minister are Narayan Rane (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), Jyotiraditya M. Scindia (Civil Aviation) and Ashwini Vaishnaw (Minister of Communications; and Minister of Electronics and Information Technology).
The Cabinet Committee on Accommodation has Shah, Gadkari, Sitharaman, Goyal and Hardeep Puri (Petroleum and Natural Gas, Housing and Urban Affairs) as members and Minister of State with Independent Charge Jitendra Singh (Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, PMO) as special invitee.
The Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development, headed by PM Modi has new members in Union Ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw and Bhupender Yadav. The special invitees for this committee are Gadkari, Ramchandra Prasad Singh (Steel), G. Kishan Reddy (Culture, Tourism; and Development of North Eastern Region)