Nirmala Sitharaman became the defence minister of the country, only the second woman after Indira Gandhi to hold the post since Independence, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi reshuffled his team on Sunday, inducting nine new members and changing major portfolios to bring dynamism and efficiency in governance.
Piyush Goyal became the railway minister, replacing Suresh Prabhu who had offered to resign after a spate of fatal train disasters. Prabhu replaced Sitharaman as minister of commerce and industry.
He inducted four former bureaucrats and gave three of them independent charge of ministries. Former diplomat Hardeep Puri was made housing and urban affairs minister, former home secretary RK Singh got power and new and renewable energy, and former DDA commissioner KJ Alphons will head tourism.
To reward performers, he promoted four ministers to cabinet rank — Sitharaman, Goyal, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan and minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. He gave independent charge of ministries to three ministers of state — Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Santosh Gangwar and Giriraj Singh.
Textiles minister Smriti Irani retained the information and broadcasting portfolio that was given to her as additional charge after Venkaiah Naidu resigned before he was elected India’s vice president. The Prime Minister wielded the stick on non-performers, shifting water resources and Ganga rejuvenation minister Uma Bharti to the low-profile drinking water and sanitation ministry.
Road, transport and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari will now hold these portfolios.
New Delhi parliamentarian Vijay Goel was divested of the independent charge of sports and youth affairs.
Ahluwalia has been shifted from parliamentary affairs to drinking water and sanitation under Bharti.
“I congratulate all those who have taken oath today. Their experience & wisdom will add immense value to the Council of Ministers,” Narendra Modi tweeted shortly after the swearing-in at Rashtrapati Bhawan. He also congratulated his four new cabinet ministers.
The President accepted the resignations of six ministers — Kalraj Mishra, Bandaru Dattatreya, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjeev Balyan, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahendra Nath Pandey.
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