Prime minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inducted 19 new faces into his council of ministers, in only the second reshuffle, and the first major rejig, of his ministry since taking office in May 2014.
Three of the new ministers are from Uttar Pradesh, which will go to polls in 2017.
The only minister in the current council to have got a promotion is junior environment minister Prakash Javadekar who was elevated to the cabinet rank.
The new ministers include at least six lawyers, one cancer specialist, one journalist and one doctorate (PhD holder). While Akbar is a veteran journalist, Bhamre is a cancer specialist and Pandey has a doctorate in Hindi literature. Chaudhary, Goel, Kulaste, Meghwal, Ahluwalia and Gohain are lawyers.
Modi also dropped five ministers in the reshuffle. They are Sanwar Lal Jat (water resources), Nihalchand (panchayati raj), Ram Shankar Katheria (human resource development), Mansukhbhai Vasava (tribal affairs) and Mohanbhai Kundariya (agriculture).
Eyebrows are being raised at least one name in Tuesday’s rejig – Kulaste, the BJP Lok Sabha member from Mandla, MP, who was embroiled in the alleged ‘cash for votes’ scam in 2008.
Apart from obvious political and caste considerations, the cabinet rejig also became necessary after former skill development minister Sarbananda Sonowal moved to Assam as chief minister and former junior consumer affairs minister Raosaheb Patil Danve was made the Maharashtra BJP chief. Junior social justice minister Vijay Sampla, too, resigned after he was made Punjab state BJP chief.
It is clear that the upcoming elections in states like Uttar Pradesh weighed in the new structure of Modi’s council of ministers.
The top four portfolios of home, defence, external affairs and finance were not changed.
On 29 June, Modi had reportedly held a five hour long performance assessment ahead of the rejig.
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