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A day after the first major reshuffle of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led cabinet, many of the newly inducted ministers took charge of their offices on Thursday.

Some of the leaders who have already assumed their assignments include new railway and IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Anurag Thakur - the new information and broadcasting, and sports minister.

Moments after reaching his new office at Rail Bhawan in the national capital, Vaishnaw said: "Railway is a major part of PM Modi's vision. His vision for railways is to transform the lives of the people, that everyone - common man, farmers, the poor - gets the benefit of the railway. I will work for that vision."

"Excellent work has been done in the Railways over the past 67 years. I am here to take the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi forward," he added.

The new MoS for railways -- Darshana Vikram Jardosh and Danve Raosaheb Dadarao -- also took charge of their offices today.

The railway ministry was earlier headed by Piyush Goyal, who will now lead the ministries of commerce and industry, consumer affairs, food and public distribution, and textiles.

Further, Anurag Thakur, who was the junior Finance Minister, joined the I&B ministry.

"PM Modi has done terrific work in the last seven years to take India forward. The work done by people before me in the I&B Ministry and the responsibility given to me by the PM. I will try to meet those expectations," he later told reporters.

Mansukh Mandaviya, the new Union health minister, also took charge on Thursday morning, replacing Dr Harsh Vardhan.

Mansukh Mandaviya at health ministry
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Mansukh Mandaviya at health ministry

Mandaviya's induction comes at a critical time when the country is fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and is making efforts to accelerate its vaccination drive.

He will also head the chemicals and fertilizers ministry. The minister was earlier holding the independent charge of the shipping ministry and was MoS for the chemicals and fertilizers ministry.

His deputy -- Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar -- has also joined the ministry as MoS.

Meenakshi Lekhi, the second-term MP of Bharatiya Janata Party's from Delhi, also assumed office on Thursday as the MoS for the ministry of external affairs.

The ministry of external affairs now has three MoS - V Muraleedharan, Meenakshi Lekhi and Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh.

"On behalf of all friends, I express my gratitude to the prime minister, home minister, party chief and the entire team that they prioritised meritocracy and hard work and gave positions to everyone. India has been brought not only on the maps but also in the ministries," Lekhi was quoted as saying by ANI.

"Women have been given big responsibilities. People used to speak of women empowerment but Prime Minister Modi made it possible that the empowered women lead the country. He provided recognition and given the responsibility to us, which is praiseworthy," she added.

Lekhi has also been given the charge of the ministry of culture as MoS.

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju took charge as Ravi Shankar Prasad's replacement on Thursday morning.

While assuming charge of the office, Rijiju said: "I am shifting to law and justice but the efforts will continue. Time at the sports department was memorable. The team was good. PM's vision of making India a sporting vision will be fulfilled."

The minister was earlier handling youth affairs and sports.

New steel minister Ram Chandra Prasad Singh also assumed office during the day, replacing Dharmendra Pradhan, who was allotted the ministry of education along with the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship.

Singh is a Janata Dal-United leader and represents Bihar in the Rajya Sabha.

Later in the day, Hardeep Singh Puri took charge as the minister of petroleum and natural gas. He was greeted by Pradhan.

Hardeep Singh Puri with Dharmendra Pradhan and MoS Rameswar Teli after assuming office
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Hardeep Singh Puri with Dharmendra Pradhan and MoS Rameswar Teli after assuming office

"Our focus will be on increasing domestic production of crude oil and natural gas. In line with PM's vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, we will work towards the development of a natural gas-based economy in the country," said Puri.

After yesterday's reshuffle, the number of cabinet ministers has increased to 30 from 21 and junior ministers from 23 to 45.



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