Seven junior ministers elevated to cabinet rank
New Delhi: Hours after 43 leaders took oath as ministers in the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday evening as a part of the Cabinet reshuffle exercise, the Centre allocated portfolios to the newly inducted ministers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in charge of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space, and all other portfolios not allocated to any minister.
Home Minister Amit Shah will also be in charge of the newly created Ministry of Cooperation. Rajnath Singh will be in charge of the Defence, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will also be the Minister of Corporate Affairs while bureaucrat-turned-politician Ashwini Vasihnaw will be in charge of the ministries of Railways, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology.
At Wednesday’s expansion and reshuffle of the council of ministers, Kiren Rijiju, Raj Kumar Singh, Hardeep Puri, Mansukh Mandaviya, G Kishan Reddy, Parshottam Rupala and Anurag Singh Thakur were elevated as cabinet ministers.
Rijiju, a prominent face from the northeast in the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was the minister of state (independent charge) in the Ministry of Youth and Sports before the rejig. He was also an MoS in the minority affairs ministry.
A former Union home secretary, Singh was the MoS with independent charge in the power and new and renewable energy ministries. He was also an MoS in the Ministry of Skill Development.
A surprise pick during a cabinet expansion in 2017, Puri, a former diplomat, was given two important portfolios — housing and urban affairs and aviation — in the BJP-led government’s second term.
As the housing and urban affairs minister, he has been piloting the Central Vista project, the pet project of the Modi government which is slated to revamp a considerable portion of the Lutyen’s Zone in Delhi.
When the government was facing an intense attack over the Central Vista project, Puri took on the Opposition strongly while defending the initiative.
Son of BJP veteran from Himachal Pradesh Prem Kumar Dhumal, Thakur was the minister of state in the ministries of finance and corporate affairs.
He has often hit out at the critics of the government inside and outside Parliament.
Wednesday also saw a big surgery in the government leading to the axing of several heavyweight ministers holding key portfolios.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was in the firing line because of perceived mismanagement of the Covid second wave which took a toll of millions of lives.
Harsh Vardhan had been widely criticised for the ensuing situation as the Health Ministry is seen as the nodal ministry for managementof the Covid situation and vaccine administration.
Among the senior ministers, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Chemicals and Fertiliser Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, and Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Gangwar have also resigned.
Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and I&B and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar have also put in their papers, while Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot has been appointed as Governor of Karnataka.
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