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This is the second expansion and reshuffle of the cabinet by Modi since the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power in May 2014. Photo: HT
This is the second expansion and reshuffle of the cabinet by Modi since the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power in May 2014. Photo: HT

Modi cabinet gets 19 new ministers

Some of the new faces to be sworn in as ministers of state are M.J. Akbar, Vijay Goel, Faggan Kulaste, Ramdas Athalwale, S.S. Ahluwalia and Ramesh Jigajinagi

New Delhi: True to expectations, politics defined the Union cabinet expansion of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Tuesday. As 19 new ministers of state took oath, the big suspense now remains whether the portfolio rejig will reflect fresh direction that the government is seeking to impart as it begins the second half of its tenure.

The only one to be elevated to the cabinet minister’s rank was Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar. The list of newly appointed ministers of state includes three from poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, three each from Rajasthan and Gujarat, two from Maharashtra (excluding Javadekar), one from Uttarakhand and one from Assam. Also, representatives from two allies—Anupriya Patel from Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh and Ramdas Athawale from Republic Party of India—got inducted.

Some of the new names in the cabinet are Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand M.J. Akbar, BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Vijay Goel, and BJP MPs S.S. Ahluwalia and Ramesh Jigajinagi.

According to Press Trust of India, five ministers of state—Nihalchand, Ram Shankar Katheria, Sanwar Lal Jat, Nihalchand, Ram Shankar Katheria, Sanwar Lal Jat, Manuskhbhai D. Vasva and M.K. Kundariya—were dropped after the expansion of council of ministers.

Also Read: Modi cabinet reshuffle tilts on Gujarat elections, Patel votebank

Since 1998, the largest council of ministers has been under former prime minister Manmohan Singh—at 78. A maximum of 82 council of ministers are allowed.

The portfolio allocations will be announced later in the day. The oath-taking ceremony on Tuesday took place at the President’s House. Four out of 20 ministers took oath in English, while the rest chose Hindi.

Modi had first expanded his cabinet in November 2014 when he had inducted 21 new faces in his council of ministers, including defence minister Manohar Parrikar, health minister J.P. Nadda and railway minister Suresh Prabhu. At present, there are 64 Union ministers, including Modi.

The reshuffle and expansion in the council of ministers is also expected to make way for organisational changes in the BJP, which in any case is due. After the re-election of Amit Shah as the party president, he has not announced his new team. Party leaders believe that the new team will be announced soon after, if not simultaneously, with the reshuffle.

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