New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expanded the Union Council of Ministers by inducting 19 new faces.
The 19 ministers, sources said, were chosen for the value they would bring to the Cabinet.
“The new ministers were chosen in an exhaustive vetting process based on a selection framework from the Prime Minister himself. He wanted doers and performers who can deliver on his vision of development and priorities — gaon, garib and kisan (village, the poor and the farmer),” sources in the Prime Minister’s Office informed Gulf News.
Senior ministers like Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Manohar Parrikar and Sushma Swaraj retained their cabinet posts.
Meanwhile, 19 other leaders from various states took oath as ministers in Tuesday’s Cabinet expansion.
Five ministers resigned to make way for the new entrants, as the council of ministers can have a maximum 82. There are now 78 ministers.
The five ministers who have stepped down are — Minister of State for Human Resource Development Ram Shankar Katheria, Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sanwar Lal Jat, Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Mansukhbhai D. Vasava, Minister of State for Agriculture M.K. Kundariya, and Minister of State for Panchayati Raj Nihal Chand.
Among the newly inducted ministers, C.R. Chaudhary is the oldest at 68 years old. The youngest is Anupriya Patel, who is just 35.
Ten of the new ministers are in their 60s, four in their 50s, another four in their 40s, and only one minister in her 30s. The PM has strictly followed the rule of not inducting those above the age of 70.
Prakash Javadekar, the lone minister of state in the Modi government to have been elevated to Cabinet rank, has been rewarded for his work in the Environment ministry, especially his proactive role in the climate change talks in Paris.
Sixty-four-year-old Ramesh Jigajinagi from Bijapur in Karnataka is the most experienced. He was first elected to Karnataka Assembly in 1983 and has held important portfolios like Home, Revenue, Social Welfare, Excise, Transport etc in the Ramakrishna Hegde, Deve Gowda and J.H. Patel governments in the state.
C.R. Chaudhary, Lok Sabha MP from Nagaur in Rajasthan, has a degree from Birmingham University in the United Kingdom. The youngest, Anupriya Patel, is a graduate from New Delhi’s prestigious Lady Sri Ram College and also has a masters in business administration. The 49-year-old Dalit woman Member of Parliament (MP) from UP, Krishna Raj, has a postgraduate degree in Arts.
Sixty three-year-old Dr Subhash Bhamre from Dhule LS seat in Maharashtra is a cancer surgeon. He hails from a backward class background. The tribal face from Madhya Pradesh, Faggan Singh Kulaste, has a post graduate law degree. The first-time minister M.J. Akbar holds a graduate degree from the Presidency College of Kolkata. He was the editor of Sunday magazine at a very young age of 25. He later edited The Telegraph and The Asian Ag newspapers.
Only three — Ajay Tamta, Ramdas Athavale and Mansukhbhai Mandavia — are undergraduates. Four of the ministers are Dalits (belong to the scheduled castes), three are tribals and three belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Asserting that it had no qualms on not being part of the Centre’s Cabinet expansion, ally Shiv Sena said that the all the new faces in the expansion were affiliated to BJP and not the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
“Every face inducted today is from the BJP. Ramdas Athavale came to the Rajya Sabha from BJP quota, Anupriya Patel merged her party with the BJP. They did not invite Akali Dal or the Telugu Desam, the Shiv Sena has no qualms about not being part of expansion,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said.
Earlier, in a clear sign of being unhappy over being excluded from the Union Cabinet expansion, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray declared his party would not “beg” for cabinet berths.
“We are a dignified party with self-respect. Whatever comes, it should be with respect. We shall not beg for anything,” Thackeray told reporters.
The reshuffle will be followed by an organisational revamp of the BJP, the sources added.
The first major Cabinet reshuffle was in November 2014. According to the Constitution, a maximum of 82 ministers can be accommodated in the Cabinet.