New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday night effected major changes in his council of ministers that saw the induction of 21 new faces, including four Cabinet ministers and reshuffle of key portfolios.
Among them, former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar was given defence portfolio and former Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu became the new railway minister in place of D V Sadananda Gowda who was shifted to law and justice portfolio.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who was freed of the defence portfolio to focus on the budget and reforms to revive the economy, was also given charge of the Information and Broadcasting. Prakash Javadekar, who was earlier handling the I&B Ministry also, will be in charge of only the Environment Ministry.
The shifting of Gowda for Prabhu to take charge of the railways was seen as a move to bring greater energy and dynamism into the proposed reforms in the sector for massive infrastructure growth.
Gowda’s Cabinet colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was handling law and justice earlier, will now concentrate on telecom sector, which is Modi’s priority. Till date, Prasad was handling the law portfolio, for which Jaitley was also consulted often.
Another Cabinet entrant, Birendra Singh, ex-general secretary of Congress, was entrusted with rural development, which was held as additional charge by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari since the death of Gopinath Munde in May. Singh was also given charge of water and sanitation.
BJP general secretary J P Nadda, who also made it to the Cabinet, was given health portfolio, in place of Dr Harsh Vardhan who was given science and technology.
Among the new Ministers of State (Independent charge), Rajiv Pratap Rudy was appointed Minister of State (MoS) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Parliamentary Affairs. The lone minister from Telangana, Bandaru Dattatreya, got the charge of labour and employment while Uttar Pradesh’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Mahesh Sharma got charge of culture and tourism, besides as MoS Civil Aviation.
Another new ministers of state Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was handed the portfolio of minority affairs as well as parliamentary affairs, while Ram Kirpal Yadav, one-time aide of Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad, was appointed MoS drinking water and sanitation.
The portfolios of the new ministers were announced late in the night indicating that Modi was still fine-tuning the allocation of work for optimum performance of his team.
In what was his first expansion of his government, Modi took on board several Dalit and backward class leaders to expand social representation in his government, eyeing Assembly elections in Bihar, West Bengal and UP in the next one to three years.
However, the Sena struck a strong discordant note, refusing the BJP offer of just a minister of state post, taking their ties to the edge of the precipice due to the stalemate over sharing of portfolios in the new government in Maharashtra.
A couple of hours before the swearing-in ceremony, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray recalled party MP Anil Desai after he had landed in Delhi to reach Rashtrapati Bhavan, stating he was miffed at his being given an MoS berth. The BJP ignored his demand that Modi speak to him.
Rashtrapati Bhavan, in a statement later, said Anil Desai could not be administered the oath of office and secrecy as he was not available for the purpose. Adding to the strained BJP-Sena ties, Prabhu, who was power minister in the Vajpayee government, joined the BJP on Sunday morning to take oath as a Cabinet minister.
An upset Thackeray announced that his party was even ready to sit in the opposition in Maharashtra if the BJP counted on the support of the Nationalist Congress Party to sustain the Devendra Fadnavis government. But he stopped short of pulling out Anant Geete, the lone Sena minister in Modi’s Cabinet.
In all, four Cabinet Ministers, three ministers of state with independent charges were inducted. Fourteen MoS were also included. The strength of Modi’s Cabinet, which Modi had wanted to be kept in minimum with the focus on maximum governance, increased to 66 on Sunday.
Significantly, Modi showed that he widened his search for fresh ministerial talent, by inducting Olympic silver medallist Rajyavardhan Rathore and Bollywood Singer Babul Supriyo, both first time MPs.
BJP’s Vijay Sampla, a Dalit MP from Punjab who began life as a plumber, and YS Chowdary of the Telugu Desam Party, whose declared wealth is worth Rs 190 crore, were also made ministers of state.
Modi also chose Jayant Sinha, son of former finance minister Yashwant Sinha . Jayant, who has studied at IIT-Delhi and at Harvard in the US, was made MoS for Finance.
Bihar, which goes to the polls next year, got three new minsters. Apart from Rudy, there was Ram Kirpal Yadav, who is key to the BJPs plan for wooing Yadav votes. BJP’s Bhumihar face Giriraj Singh, who made controversial comments earlier this year, was also made an MoS with the charge of medium and small scale industries.
With four new ministers , the number of nominees from UP where the BJP won 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats reached 13. They included Modi himself, who represents Varanasi, Rajnath Singh, Uma Bharti and Kalraj Mishra.
Bihar’s representation increased to eight, with the inclusion of three ministers. It has the second highest representation after Uttar Pradesh. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance had won 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Six ministers were inducted in May from Maharashtra, including Gopinath Munde, Nitin Gadkari, Anant Geete (Shiv Sena), Prakash Javadekar, Piyush Goel and Rao Saheb Danve. Munde died in a road accident here in June. With the induction of Suresh Prabhu and Hansraj Ahir, Maharashtra’s strength in the Cabinet went up to seven.
Modi did not ignore Gujarat whose number went up to five. He inducted Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhury and Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya as ministers of state.
Taking into account the complaint that Rajasthan, which had given 25 MPs to the BJP, was not represented adequately, Modi chose Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Sanwar Lal Jat. West Bengal got a representative with the inclusion of Babul Supriyo into the ministry.
Manohar Parrikar (59)
His was not a surprise choice as his name had surfaced when Narendra Modi took charge on May 26. One of the first to go public in favour of making Modi the prime ministerial candidate, the three-time Goa chief minister rose from a RSS pracharak to become a Union minister. Administrative acumen is his forte and Parrikar, an IIT-Mumbai alumni, is expected to bring in his experience into Defence Ministry.
Suresh Prabhu (61)
With Prabhu’s anointment, Modi showed he is willing to rub Shiv Sena the wrong way. A former Sainik, Prabhu took BJP membership just before driving to Rashtrapati Bhavan to take oath. Prabhu was appointed the prime minister’s Sherpa for G-20 talks and his was the name speculated for the body to replace the Planning Commission. A qualified Chartered Accountant, Prabhu’s efforts to streamline functioning of Power Ministry during Vajpayee regime were appreciated. He was also chairman of Task Force for interlinking of rivers and the South Asia Water conference
J P Nadda (53)
Known as a tough task master, he was the man who executed BJP chief Amit Shah’s difficult assignments. Nadda is known to be part of all major decision making processes in the BJP. He enjoys support from RSS and has good equations with all prominent BJP leaders. He takes personality development and time management workshops for the party workers.
Ch Birender Singh (68)
The Congress denied him chief ministership in Haryana and a seat in Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet. He left the Congress after four decades of association with it, and now finds a place in Modi’s team as he is a prominent Jat leader in the state. The BJP believes that Singh’s entry into the saffron party will bring Jats closer
The Old Timer : Bandaru Dattatreya (67)
The four-time MP is known for his simplicity, soft-spokenness and down-to-earth nature. He is the first Union minister from the newly-created state of Telangana. A science graduate, he joined the RSS in 1965 and was a pracharak from 1968 to 1989. He also Has previous experience in the erstwhile Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
The Pilot: Rajiv Pratap Rudy (52)
A commercial pilot, Rudy humbled Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi in Bihar’s Saran. He played a key role in the party’s victory in the politically crucial state of Maharashtra. His induction into the Cabinet also shows the BJP’s focus on Bihar ahead of next year’s Assembly elections. He has a formidable reputation as a party organiser.
The Doctor: Dr Mahesh Sharma (55)
Sharma, an MP from Gautam Budh Nagar, owns the Kailash Hospital in Noida, a satellite township of Delhi. A staunch RSS follower since childhood, he was actively associated with ABVP during his student days.
The Minority Face: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (57)
Naqvi finds a place in Modi’s team but not in the senior league. A defender of the party, he has to satisfy himself with MoS status. He is one of the Vice Presidents of BJP. He explains party’s stand on minorities, especially Muslims. He was among others involved in organising logistics for BJP in Lok Sabha polls.
Congress-baiter: Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhari (60)
The man who stormed the traditional Congress bastion of Banaskantha, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhari maintained a stronghold over it, winning four times. An active RSS member, Chaudhari is a commerce post-graduate degree holder who worked as a diamond trader. In Parliament, he was a member of several panels, including the Standing Committees on Finance, Chemicals and Fertilizer, Agriculture and Commerce.
The Motormouth: Giriraj Singh (62)
A Modi loyalist, he kicked up a storm when he said in April, “those opposing Narendra Modi are looking at Pakistan, and such people will have place in Pakistan and not in India”. He has found a berth as a representative of Bhumihars, who backed BJP in Bihar. He has special interest in agricultural practices and animal husbandry.
The Whistleblower: Hansraj Gangaram Ahir (59)
The four-time BJP MP from Chandrapur, Maharashtra, is better known as one of the whistleblowers in the multi-crore coal block allocation scam. He pressed for a Central Vigilance Commission probe into the scam, leading to investigation by the CBI. Ahir has had 24 private bills out of the total 288 in the 15th Lok Sabha. Hailed by 14th Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee as a role model for MPs, he won the Sansad Ratna Award for the Best Parliamentarian in the 15th Lok Sabha for being meticulous and systematic in parliamentary duties.
The Sophisticated: Jayant Sinha (51)
Alumni of IIT-Delhi and Harvard Business School, he is the son of Yashwant Sinha. An investment fund manager and management consultant so far, he was elected to Lok Sabha from Hazaribagh, a seat once represented by his father. An avid tennis player, he is expected to assist Arun Jaitley in Finance Ministry.
The Shooter: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (44)
Rathore, who won Olympics silver medal in 2004, hit the political road in 2013 and he hit the bull’s eye with an emphatic victory in Lok Sabha polls after taking voluntary retirement from the Army as a Colonel. He served Army for 23 years. “I must not back out when the nation is faced with a different kind of threat,” he had said about his entry into politics.
The Singer: Babul Supriyo (44)
Supriyo, the singing sensation, celebrated his entry into Modi’s team savouring a cup of tea and a cream roll from a roadside tea stall. The singer, who rendered hit songs “Pari Hai Ek Pari...”, “Chanda Chamke...” and “Dil Ne Dil Ko Pukara”, is one of the two BJP MPs from West Bengal, where BJP hopes to do better next time. Supriyo also pipped senior BJP leader S S Alhuwalia to enter the council of ministers.
The Plumber: Vijay Sampla (53)
Sampla, a Dalit, was once a plumber in Gulf and now he has scaled new heights. He may be BJP’s trump card to woo Scheduled Castes when Punjab goes to Assembly polls in 2017. Sampla began his political journey after being elected Sarpanch of his village and has also held several important positions in the state BJP unit including having been its Vice President.
The Writer: Prof (Dr) Ram Shankar Katheria (50)
A PhD holder and a writer with books on social issues and Dalit upliftment, among others, Prof (Dr) Ram Shankar Katheria’s inclusion into the Union Cabinet is expected to help the party in UP and Punjab.
A second-time MP, Dr Katheria of the UP is in charge of party affairs in Punjab. In his first term, he was a member of several committees like the Committee on Urban Development, Committee on Papers Laid on the Table, Committee on Petitions and also the Consultative Committee on Rural Development.
The Preacher: Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti (47)
A religious preacher, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti helped BJP make inroads among the Dalit and backward classes in the politically-crucial state of Uttar Pradesh. She contested and won from the Fatehpur seat in UP and her candidature is widely acknowledged to have got the BJP the support of the Kashyap and Nishad communities.
Courtesy: Mangaloretoday.com/ DHNS