Modi Begins Second Term With 57-Minister Cabinet  

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NEW DELHI — Narendra Modi was on Thursday sworn in as country’s Prime Minister for a second term, heading the National Democratic Alliance government in the presence of a large gathering of national and international dignitaries.

 Modi, 68, who became only the third Indian prime minister after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi to win a second term with a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Nath Kovind at a glittering ceremony at the forecourt of majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“Honoured to serve India!” tweeted Modi after taking the oath for the second consecutive term.

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Apart from Shah, Singh, Gadkari, the other top leaders who were sworn-in as cabinet ministers included D V Sadananda Gowda, Nirmala Sitharaman and Ram Vilas Paswan.

While the inclusion of Shah, seen as BJP’s key strategist who helped the party to expand its base after taking over the reins of the party in 2014, was much speculated, Jaishankar, considered close to Modi, was a surprise pick.

Some of the key ministers in the previous Modi government, including Sushma Swaraj, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Maneka Gandhi were not part of the new council of ministers.

Former finance minister Arun Jaitley had written to Modi on Wednesday and said that he didn’t want to be a part of the new government due to health reasons.

Top opposition leaders including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, corporate honchos, film stars, chief ministers and a galaxy of leaders from BIMSTEC countries were part of the nearly 8,000 guests at the ceremony.

Others who took oath of office as cabinet ministers are — Narendra Singh Tomar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Thanwar Chand Gehlot, Ramesh Pokhriyal, Arjun Munda, Smriti Irani, Harsh Vardhan, Prakash Javadekar, Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Prahlad Joshi, Mahendra nath pandey, Arvind Sawant, Giriraj Singh and Gajendra Shekhawat.

Those who took oath as minister of state with independent charge are —

Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Rao Inderjit Singh, Shripad Yesso Naik, Jitendra Singh

Kiren Rijiju, Prahalad Singh Patel, Raj Kumar Singh, Hardeep Singh Puri

Mansukh L Mandaviya.

The minister of state are –Faggan Singh Kulaste, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Arjun Ram Meghwal, V K Singh, Krishan Pal, Danve Raosaheb Dadarao, G Kishan Reddy, Parshottam Rupala, Ramdas Athawale, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Babul Supriyo, Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, Dhotre Sanjay Shamrao, Anurag Singh Thakur, Angadi Suresh Channabasappa, Nityanand Rai, Rattan Lal Kataria, V Muraleedharan, Renuka Singh Saruta, Som Parkash, Rameswar Teli, Pratap Chandra Sarangi, Kailash Choudhary, Debasree Chaudhuri.

There are 24 cabinet ministers and as many MoS’ while nine other were given MoS with independent charge rank.

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Modi can have as many as 80 ministers in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

As per the Constitution, the total number of Union ministers, including the Prime Minister shall not exceed 15 per cent of the number of members in the LS.

This is the second time Modi took the oath at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Modi was sworn in by the then President Pranab Mukherjee in 2014 in the presence of over 3,500 guests including the heads of SAARC countries.

Earlier, Chandra Shekhar in 1990 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 were sworn in at the sprawling forecourt.

Leaders of BIMSTEC countries including President of Bangladesh Abdul Hamid, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, President of Myanmar U Win Myint and Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering also attended the gala event.

Thailand, its Special Envoy Grisada Boonrach represented the country.

Besides India, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) comprises Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan as members.

Kyrgyz President and current chair of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, and Mauritius PM Pravind Kumar Jugnauth also attended the event.

S Jaishankar Is Back As Minister

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, one of Narendra Modi’s most trusted diplomats who earlier served as foreign affairs secretary, is now back as minister in the Union Cabinet.

Whether his diplomatic skills are going to be used in foreign policy related issues or will he be used in some other ministry, is still being speculated. Another former diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri had been minister of urban development ministry in Modi’s earlier Cabinet.

Jaishankar could well be brought in as minister of state for foreign affairs. If that happens, he will be expected to play the role former editor-turned politician, M. J. Akbar played along with V.K. Singh as foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s junior ministers. It will be of interest to see who comes in as foreign minister.

Jaishankar, a 1977 batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, was brought in as foreign secretary in January 2016, cutting short incumbent secretary Sujatha Singh’s two-year tenure by some months.

Jaishankar will be a rarity among his Cabinet colleagues. His wife Kyoko is from Japan. The former President K.R. Narayanan’s wife was also from Myanmar (erstwhile Burma).

Jaishankar served in the top diplomat’s post and as head of the IFS until 2018. He was replaced by the current foreign secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale after Jaishankar joined Tata Sons as president Global Corporate Affairs.

The induction of Jaishankar as a Cabinet minister at a juncture when Sino-US relations are getting more complex at the global stage and throwing a number of challenges on key areas, especially on trade and cyber-security, is an interesting choice.

The world’s current hegemon, the United States is widely believed to be a declining power, while China is seen as the rising hegemon. The two have been engaged in a tussle over trade and other issues for establishing their dominance at the global stage. What stand India takes will be significant as it is regarded as a key bellweather state that can influence the support of others towards one of the two contenders.

Jaishankar has served as ambassador in both China and the US. He was also India’s High Commissioner in Singapore, a close ally of the US in Asia and also a country with a strong Chinese diaspora. For years it has been one of the preferred “listening posts” for diplomats and foreign policy commentators on key policies and developments relating to China.

How Jaishankar as a minister and his former colleagues in the IFS, now being headed by an old China hand Vijay Gokhale, works out on key strategic and foreign policy issues, should be an interesting development for the coming days.

Born in 1955 to well-known strategic analyst K. Subrahmanyam and Sulochana, Jaishankar’s two borthers are also renowned in their respective fields—historian Sanjay Subrahmanyan and former development secretary S. Vijay Kumar.

A graduate from Delhi’s St Stephen College, Jaishankar has a PhD from JNU on International Relations. 

RSS loyalist makes entry into cabinet                      

 A die-hard RSS loyalist, long-time BJP worker Pralhad Joshi is a fourth time member of Parliament from the saffron party’s bastion of Dharwad.

Joshi, who was also BJP Karnataka president, came to limelight as Rastradwaja Horata Samiti Sanchalak, when the party organised a movement to hoist the tricolour at Idgah Maidan in Hubballi that had created a huge law and order situation, and also “Save Kashmir Movement” in early 1990s.

Joshi won the Dharwad Lok Sabha seat by a margin of 2,05,072 votes, defeating Congress’s Vinay Kulkarni, a former minister, in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha polls.

In his long political career spanning over decades, this will be the first time that Joshi will be serving as a minister.

Born into a humble Brahmin family of a Railway employee in 1962 at Vijapura, Joshi was the third child of late Venkatesh Joshi and Malatibai.

He had his primary education in Railway School, high school education in New English School, Hubballi, and graduation from Sri Kadasiddeshwar Arts College, Hubballi.

A member of the RSS since a young age, Joshi was groomed at its training camps. He then got himself associated with the BJP and became a party activist.

Considered among those who are instrumental in making Hubballi-Dharwad and surrounding areas as the saffron party’s bastion, Joshi became general secretary of party’s Dharwad unit in 1998 and its president in 1995.

He first became the Member of Parliament in 2004, which he has been holding till date by winning consecutive four elections (2009, 2014 and again in 2019.)

Joshi has also served as BJP Karnataka state unit general secretary, and went on to become its president in 2013.

Considered close to former chief minister Jagadish Shettar and late Union minister Ananth Kumar, he took over as state BJP chief just ahead of the 2013 assembly polls.

 

 

 

 


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