The third reshuffle of Modi government in three-years of its governance saw induction of nine new Ministers of State (MoS) into the Cabinet and promotion of four ministers on the basis of ‘performance’, on Sunday.
The ministers were sworn in by President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan
The new faces are: Virendra Kumar, Anant Kumar Hegde and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, former IAS officers Alphons Kannanthanam and RK Singh, former diplomat Hardeep Puri and ex-Mumbai police chief Satyapal Singh, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, a member of the Lok Sabha from Bihar, and Shiv Pratap Shukla from Uttar Pradesh.
The new ministers come from diverse backgrounds and have rich administrative experiences. Some of them have professional degrees or even PhDs.
The highlight of expansion was Nirmala Sitharaman, who was promoted as a Cabinet minister and was given the charge of all-important Defence Ministry. Nirmala Sitharaman will be the first woman Defence Minister of the country. Indira Gandhi had held the department when she was Prime Minister.
The 58-year-old Sitharaman will now be part of the ‘Top 5’ or the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which also includes the Prime Minister, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance Minster Arun Jaitley.
The cabinet re-shuffle saw Dharmendra Pradhan getting additional charge of Skill Development Ministry.
Piyush Goyal has become the new Railways Minister, and he will also head the Coal portfolio, and former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has been given the charge of Commerce and Industry ministry.
Nitin Gadkari got additional charge of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, with his promotion, is holding the charge of Minority and Parliamentary Affairs, and will be the lone Muslim face in the Cabinet.
Uma Bharti was shifted to Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation from Water Resources.
Among the nine-new minister Anant Kumar Hegde was made MoS in Skill Development Ministry.
Shiv Pratap Shukla, Ashwini Choubey, Virendra Kumar were made MoS in Finance, Health and Women and Child Development, respectively.
RK Singh and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore are MoS (Independent) in Power and Sports ministries, respectively.
Hardeep Puri and Alphons Kannanthanam made MoS (Independent charge) of Housing and Urban Development & Tourism, respectively and Santosh Kumar Gangwar has been given MoS (Independent Charge) of Labour and Employment.
The elevation of MPs from Odisha and Karnataka in the reshuffle are also reflective of BJP’s political calculation in these poll-bound states.