Cabinet Expansion 2017: New Ministers Take Oath As PM Rejigs Team


modi-cabinetFour Union ministers were promoted to Cabinet rank and nine new ministers were sworn in by President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday, as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third reshuffle of the council of ministers.

Those who got a promotion and were sworn in are petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, power minister Piyush Goyal, minister of state at the ministry of commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman and minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Two of the nine new ministers sworn in – former foreign service officer Hardeep Puri and former IAS officer K J Alphons – are not members of Parliament (MP). The other seven who join Prime Minister Modi’s council of ministers are Uttara Kannada MP Anantkumar Hegde, former home secretary and Arrah MP R K Singh, Jodhpur MP Gajendra Singh, former Mumbai police commissioner and Baghpat MP Satya Pal Singh, Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh Shiv Pratap Shukla, Buxar MP Ashwini Chaubey and Tikamgarh MP Virendra Kumar.

The nine new ministers, all ministers of state, have been selected with a “clear mandate” to deliver on PM Modi’s vision of a “New India”, which he spoke about at length in his Independence Day speech last month, sources said. The new inductions include four former civil servants and appear to reflect a mix of caste equations. There are three Brahmins, two Rajputs, one Dalit, one Jat, one Christian and one Sikh.

There’s no information yet on portfolios assigned to any of the ministers sworn in.

The selection of Alphons and Puri marks an effort to reach out to minorities and also keeps in mind BJP’s efforts in Kerala. The induction of Hegde and Virendra Kumar are likely a nod to the upcoming Assembly elections in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. There is no new minister from Gujarat, which will also see Assembly polls soon. This absence probably reflects the BJP’s assessment that the Gujarat polls will revolve around PM Modi’s campaign.

Notably, an “unhappy” Shiv Sena was conspicuous by its absence at the swearing-in ceremony, reported ANI. As was expected, no one from the JD (U) was named a minister. And Union minister Uma Bharti was not present at the oath-taking ceremony, as she is at an event in Varanasi.

Arrah’s Parliamentarian RK Singh said earlier on Sunday he was thankful for the PM’s confidence in him.