Modi 2.0: Gadkari retains highways, Goyal gets commerce
Nitin Gadkari | Photo Credit: Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday named Nirmala Sitharaman as India's next finance minister, replacing Arun Jaitley, while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah will be the new home minister.

Sitharaman, who was previously the country's defence minister, has also been given charge of the corporate affairs ministry. She is the country’s first woman finance minister.

Shah replaces Rajnath Singh, who has been named the new defence minister. However, despite Shah’s entry into the cabinet, Singh remains the de-facto number two, and will continue to hold charge of government whenever Modi is out of the country.

Piyush Goyal will be the new commerce and industry minister, replacing Suresh Prabhu, and will retain the railways ministry. Goyal, who had presented the interim budget in February when Jaitley was on medical leave, was widely expected to be made finance minister.

Nitin Gadkari, whose name too had been doing the rounds for the finance ministry, has retained the roads and highways ministry while Dharmendra Pradhan has retained the petroleum ministry. Pradhan has also been given charge of the steel ministry. Ravi Shankar Prasad will be the communications and IT minister.

Anurag Thakur, a Lok Sabha member from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh and the son of former state chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, has been made a junior finance and corporate affairs minister and will be reporting to Sitharaman. This is a big leg-up for Thakur, who was the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), perhaps the richest sports body in the country, between May 2016 and early 2017. In February 2017, he was ousted by the Supreme Court for trying to come in the way of the recommendations of the Lodha committee to reform the cricket board.

Among the big four is former foreign secretary Subramanyam Jaishankar, who has been given charge of the external affairs ministry. Jaishankar, the son of former bureaucrat K Subramanyam and the brother of former mines secretary S. Vijay Kumar, has extensive experience serving in China and Japan. He was also the Indian ambassador to the US.

Other key ministers include Narendra Singh Tomar, who has been given charge of agriculture, rural development and panchayati raj; Ram Vilas Paswan, who has been given consumer affairs, food and public distribution; and Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, who is the new human resources development minister, in charge of education.

Diplomat-turned-politician Hardeep Singh Puri has retained his old portfolio of urban development, and has been additionally given the civil aviation ministry. He will also be a junior commerce minister, reporting to Goyal, in that capacity.

The environment ministry has been put under Prakash Javadekar, who will also be India’s new information and broadcasting minister.

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