Newly sworn in Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday allocated portfolios to his ministers, handing the Home Ministry to BJP president Amit Shah, External Affairs Ministry to technocrat-diplomat Subramanyam Jaishankar and Finance to Nirmala Sitharaman, the defence minister in Modi’s last government.
Rajnath Singh, the seniormost BJP leader in the Cabinet who was the home minister and number two in the previous government, was moved to Defence.
With the new appointments, Shah and Jaishankar are now part of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the elite club in the Cabinet. Sitharaman became its member when she was appointed defence minister in September 2017.
Modi held his first Cabinet meeting on Friday with Singh to his right and Shah to his left. Before chairing the meeting, the Prime Minister paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel at his official residence.
While most ministers from the previous Modi government retained their portfolios, the major upgrades included Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal, who got the Commerce portfolio along with his previous responsibility of Railways. Likewise, Narendra Singh Tomar got Agriculture along with the Rural Development portfolio he held earlier.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, too, got the portfolio of Communication along with Law and IT that he held in the previous government. For Dharmendra Pradhan, Steel was added to his previous Petroleum ministry.
Smriti Irani, who had handled HRD and Information and Broadcasting ministries in Modi’s first government and who has now defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his family bastion Amethi, will take care of the Women and Child Development Ministry apart from Textiles, which she had earlier.
The HRD Ministry was given to former Uttarakhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, while the incumbent Prakash Javadekar got Environment and Information and Broadcasting.
The Prime Minister, who has given an indication that reaching drinking water to every household would be his target in his second term, chose Gajendra Shekhawat, minister of state for agriculture in the last government, to take care of that responsibility. Giriraj Singh, who has been elevated to cabinet rank, got the portfolios of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.
Among the three who were taken into the ministry from their posts of party chiefs in the states, Cabinet minister Mahendra Nath Pandey was assigned Skill Development, Danve Raosaheb Dadarao is Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, while Nityanand Rai is junior minister in the Home Ministry.
Delhi MP Harsh Vardhan, who was Science and Technology Minister in the last government, will handle the Health Ministry apart from his earlier departments. New minister Pralhad Joshi has been made the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs apart from Coal and Mines.
Cabinet ministers from the previous ministry — Ram Vilas Paswan, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Thaawar Chand Gehlot and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi — have been entrusted with their portfolios from the previous government — Food and Public Distribution, Food Processing Industries, Social Justice and Minority Affairs, respectively.
Among the Ministers of State (Independent Charge), Santosh Gangwar, Rao Inderjit Singh, Shripad Yesso Naik, Jitendra Singh, R K Singh and Hardeep Puri have retained their ministries. Kiren Rijiju was made the minister for Youth Affairs while Prahalad Patel will be looking after Culture and Tourism.
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