Updated: July 8, 2021 10:44:48 am
In the first Cabinet reshuffle exercise since Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to power for a second term in 2019, a total of 43 leaders took oath as ministers in a ceremony held in the Darbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan on Wednesday.
The reshuffle follows a protracted review exercise by the PM and the BJP top brass in a series of meetings with ministers. These were held in the wake of the devastating second Covid wave that has set off widespread criticism of the Government – including by several courts – for the mismanagement of the crisis.
The newly inducted Council of Ministers include 15 Cabinet ministers and 28 Ministers of State (MoS), comprising new faces and those elevated. While Sarbananda Sonowal, Narayan Rane, and Jyotiraditya Scindia were among the first ones to take oath as Cabinet ministers, Kiren Rijiju, R K Singh, Hardeep Singh Puri, Mansukh Mandaviya, Parshottam Rupala, G Kishan Reddy, and Anurag Thakur were elevated to the Cabinet level.
While Rane and Sonowal had previously served as chief ministers of Maharashtra and Assam, respectively, Congress-turned-BJP leader Scindia is a Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh. He had served as the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power and Union Minister of State for Commerce & Communications during the erstwhile UPA government.
Before the rejig, a total of 12 ministers stepped down from their positions, including BJP heavyweights Harsh Vardhan (Health Minister), Ravi Shankar Prasad (Law and Justice, Electronics and Information Technology Minister), and Prakash Javadekar (Forest and Climate Change Minister). Other ministers who are out of the Cabinet are Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (Education Minister), Babul Supriyo, Sadananda Gowda, Santosh Gangwar, Debasree Chaudhuri, Rattan Lal Kataria, Sanjay Dhotre, Thawarchand Gehlot, Pratap Chandra Sarangi (MoS), and Ashwini Chaubey (MoS).
Lok Sabha MP from Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh Virendra Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha Ashwini Vaishnaw, Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar and JD(U) leader R C P Singh, Lok Sabha MP from Bihar’s Hajipur Pashupati Kumar Paras, were also sworn-in as Cabinet ministers. Bhupendra Yadav, who has been serving in the BJP organisation as a general secretary, was also sworn-in as a Cabinet minister.
As many as 28 MoS took oath including seven from Uttar Pradesh which goes to polls next year with the BJP seeking a second term there. Pankaj Choudhary, Anupriya Patel, Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma, Kaushal Kishore, S P S Baghel and Ajay Kumar– all Lok Sabha MPs from Uttar Pradesh — took oath as new Union Ministers of State. B L Verma, a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, was also sworn-in as a Minister of State.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar and Shobha Karandlaje, MPs from Karnataka; Darshana Vikram Jardosh from Gujarat; New Delhi Lok Sabha MP Meenakshi Lekhi; Annapurna Devi (Jharkhand), A Narayanaswamy (Karnataka); Ajay Bhatt (Uttarakhand), Chauhan Devusinh (Gujarat), were also sworn in as MoS.
Others who took oath as Ministers of State at the ceremony were Bhagwanth Khuba (Karnataka); Kapil Moreshwar Patil (Maharashtra); Pratima Bhoumik (Tripura); Subhas Sarkar (West Bengal); Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad (Maharashtra); Rajkumar Ranjan Singh (Manipur); MPs Bharati Pawar (Maharashtra), Bishweswar Tudu (Odisha) and Shantanu Thakur (West Bengal) Munjapara Mahendrabhai (Gujarat), John Barla and Nisith Pramanik (West Bengal); and BJP’s Tamil Nadu state president L Murugan.
With the reshuffle, Modi has now brought in young faces and has also given representation to various social groups and regions.
Criticising the exercise, Congress has said that the reshuffle was not driven by performance or governance but meant for “distribution of the spoils of power” and “adjustment” of defectors.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said if the cabinet expansion was to be done on the basis of performance then the Prime Minister should have been the first one to be removed for his failures in providing governance. “Several Dalits, backward caste members are being made ministers. They are doing it from the point of polls. This is being done to distract people. They are not doing this for welfare of communities but because of their compulsion,” Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge was quoted as saying by ANI.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)
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