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Modi carries out major overhaul of Cabinet; Sonowal, Scindia brought in

In a major overhaul, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday brought in Sarbananda Sonowal, Narayan Rane and Jyotiraditya Scindia in the Cabinet while dropping as many as 12 ministers including Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar.

IMAGE: Sarbananda Sonowal greets after taking oath as minister during a swearing-in ceremony of Cabinet expansion at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi . Photograph: ANI Photo

Fifteen Cabinet ministers and 28 Ministers of State, comprising new faces and those elevated, were sworn in at a ceremony held in the Darbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. While most of the members took oath in Hindi, a few of them took it in English.

This is the first reshuffle in the Council of Ministers by Prime Minister Modi since he assumed charge for a second term in May 2019.

 

An extensive and protracted review was carried out by Modi and the BJP top brass through a series of meetings with ministers ahead of Wednesday’s big exercise. These meetings were also held in the wake of widespread criticism of the Central government’s handling of the COVID crisis.

Rane, 69, a Rajya Sabha MP and a former Maharashtra chief minister, was the first to take oath.

After Rane, Sonowal, former Assam chief minister, took oath in English. The 58-year-old leader has earlier served as Union Minister of State (Independent charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship; and Sports and Youth Affairs under Prime Minister Modi

Congress-turned-BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, a Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, also took oath as a Cabinet minister. The 50-year-old leader was Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power and Union Minister of State for Commerce & Communications in the earlier United Progressive Alliance government.

Lok Sabha MP from Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh Virendra Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha Ashwini Vaishnaw, Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar and Janata Dal-United leader R C P Singh, Lok Sabha MP from Bihar’s Hajipur Pashupati Kumar Paras, were also sworn-in as Cabinet ministers.

Kiren Rijiju, R K Singh, Hardeep Singh Puri, Mansukh Mandaviya, Parshottam Rupala, G Kishan Reddy and Anurag Thakur were elevated to the Cabinet level.

Bhupendra Yadav, who has been serving in the BJP organisation as a general secretary, was also sworn-in as a Cabinet minister.

As many as 28 Ministers of State took oath including seven from Uttar Pradesh which goes to polls next year with the BJP seeking a second term there.

Pankaj Choudhary, Anupriya Patel, Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma, Kaushal Kishore, S P S Baghel and Ajay Kumar — all Lok Sabha MPs from Uttar Pradesh — took oath as new Union Ministers of State. B L Verma, a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, was also sworn-in as a Minister of State.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar and Shobha Karandlaje, MPs from Karnataka; Darshana Vikram Jardosh from Gujarat; New Delhi Lok Sabha MP Meenakashi Lekhi; Annpurna Devi (Jharkhand), A Narayanaswamy (Karnataka); Ajay Bhatt (Uttarakhand), Chauhan Devusinh (Gujarat), were also sworn in as MoS.

Others who took oath as Ministers of State at the ceremony were Bhagwanth Khuba (Karnataka); Kapil Moreshwar Patil (Maharashtra); Pratima Bhoumik (Tripura); Subhas Sarkar (West Bengal); Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad (Maharashtra); Rajkumar Ranjan Singh (Manipur); MPs Bharati Pawar (Maharashtra), Bishweswar Tudu (Odisha) and Shantanu Thakur (West Bengal) Munjapara Mahendrabhai (Gujarat), John Barla and Nisith Pramanik (West Bengal); and BJP’s Tamil Nadu state president L Murugan.

At least 16 entrants to the Council of Ministers are first time MPs.

Earlier, four senior Union ministers — Prasad, Javadekar, Vardhan and Education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” — were among 12 ministers who resigned on Wednesday ahead of the cabinet reshuffle.

Besides these four, Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar, Minister of State for Education Sanjay Dhotre, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Debasree Chaudhuri, Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria and Minister of State for Environment Babul Supriyo also resigned.

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot had resigned after he was made Governor of Karnataka on Tuesday.

Prasad and Javadekar, who had been the face of Cabinet briefings announcing key Cabinet decisions on several occasions in the past few years, were present at the swearing-in ceremony here after resigning as ministers. Vardhan was also present at the ceremony.

With this reset, Modi has brought in young faces and has also given representation to various social groups and regions in the reshuffle.

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