New Delhi: Controversial HRD minister leader Smriti Irani has been shifted from the key education portfolio to textiles and replaced by Prakash Javadekar – newly elevated to cabinet rank – in an expansion of the union council of ministers and reshuffle which saw several other changes.
The shifting of Irani, whose two-year tenure in the human resources development (HRD) ministry was marked by controversies over dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad and the JNU row, triggered speculation on whether it was a punishment for under-performance or part of a political plan to leave her free to be the face of the BJP’s campaign in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls due in 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inducted 19 new faces, including BJP leaders S.S. Ahluwalia, M.J. Akbar and Vijay Goel, while elevating environment minister Prakash Javadekar in the second expansion of his government ahead of political battles in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and other states. Akbar will be the second minister of state for external affairs along with V.K. Singh, who has also now been divested of his portfolio as minister of state (independent charge) for the ministry for statistics and programme implementation.
Urban development minister M. Venkaiah Naidu gets the Information and Broadcasting portfolio – previously held by finance minister Arun Jaitley – but loses parliamentary affairs, which has been given to chemicals and fertilisers minister Anantha Kumar.
The reshuffle also saw D.V. Sadananda Gowda being relieved of the law and justice portfolio, which goes to information technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Gowda has been sent to statistics and programme implementation.
Jayant Sinha has been shifted from finance to civil Aviation in the minister of state rank.
Five ministers of state were dropped in the second exercise undertaken by Modi in a little more than two years since he took over in May, 2014. These are Nihal Chand Meghwal (chemicals and fertilisers), Ram Shankar Katheria (HRD), Sanwar Lal Jat (water resources), Manuskhbhai D. Vasva (tribal affairs) and M.K. Kundariya (agriculture).
After the dropping of the five, Tuesday’s expansion took the total strength of the council of ministers to 78, just keeping it under the constitutionally allowed maximum.
Manoj Sinha, who is the MoS in railways gets communications (aka telecoms) as independent charge – Ravi Shankar Prasad held it earlier – while Santosh Kumar Gangwar, who was MoS (independent charge) in textiles, goes to finance in place of Jayant Sinha. Arjun Ram Meghwal will be the second MoS in the finance ministry.
Javadekar, who held independent charge of environment, was the lone minister to be promoted to cabinet rank while all new inductees took oath as ministers of state. Earlier, there was speculation that power minister Piyush Goyal and commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman would be elevated to the Cabinet. Goyal has been handed additional charge of mines.
Among the new ministers with MoS rank, Vijay Goel gets youth affairs and sports as independent charge, a post held by Sarbananda Sonowal before he became the chief minister of Assam, while Anil Madhav Dave comes in place of Javadekar in the environment ministry with independent charge.
BJP ally Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel has been allotted health and family welfare along with Faggan Singh Kulaste while S.R. Bhamre will be defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s deputy.
Ahluwalia gets agriculture and farmers welfare, and parliamentary affairs.
Ajay Tamta (Uttarakhand), Arjun Ram Meghwal (Rajasthan), Krishna Raj (UP), Ramdas Athawale (Maharashtra), Ramesh C Jigajinagi (Karnataka) were among the dalit MPs administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan attended by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Modi, his cabinet colleagues, BJP president Amit Shah and leaders of allied parties among others. No Congress leader was present.
Others who were inducted included P.P. Chaudhary, C. R. Chaudhary (Rajasthan), A.M. Dave, Faggan Singh Kulaste (Madhya Pradesh), Mahendra Nath Pandey (UP), Purshotam Rupala, J Bhabhor and Mansukhbhai Mandaviya (Gujarat), Rajen Gohain (Assam) and S.R. Bhamre (Maharashtra).
A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said the president has accepted the resignation of the five outgoing ministers.
Rao Inderjit Singh will no longer be MoS in Defence but will continue in planning as independent charge. He has also been given urban development.
Haribhai Chaudhary has been shifted from the home ministry to micro, small and medium Enterprises and will be replaced by Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, who was the minister of state in chemicals and fertilisers.
Complete List of the Council of Ministers (as of July 5, 2016)
1.Narendra Modi: Prime Minister, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy Department of Space, All important policy issues and all other portfolios not allocated to any Minister
2.Rajnath Singh – Home Affairs
3.Sushma Swaraj – External Affairs
4.Arun Jaitley – Finance & Corporate Affairs
5.M Venkaiah Naidu – Urban Development Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Information & Broadcasting
6.Nitin Jairam Gadkari – Road Transport and Highways & Shipping
7.Manohar Parrikar – Defence
8.Suresh Prabhu – Railways
9.D.V. Sadananda Gowda – Statistics & Programme Implementation
10.Uma Bharati – Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation
11.Najma A. Heptulla – Minority Affairs
12.Ramvilas Paswan – Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution
13.Kalraj Mishra – Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises
14.Maneka Sanjay Gandhi – Women & Child Development
15.Ananth Kumar – Chemicals & Fertilizers, Parliamentary Affairs
16.Ravi Shankar Prasad – Law & Justice, Electronics & Information Technology
17.Jagat Prakash Nadda – Health & Family Welfare
18.Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati – Civil Aviation
19.Anant Geete – Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises
20.Harsimrat Kaur Badal – Food Processing Industries
21.Narendra Singh Tomar – Rural Development, Panchayati Raj Drinking Water & Sanitation
22.Chaudhary Birender Singh – Steel
23.Jual Oram – Tribal Affairs
24.Radha Mohan Singh – Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
25.Thaawar Chand Gehlot – Social Justice and Empowerment
26.Smriti Zubin Irani – Textiles
27.Harsh Vardhan – Science & Technology, Earth Sciences
28.Prakash Javadekar – Human Resource Development
Ministers of state (independent charge)
29.Rao Inderjit Singh – Planning (Independent Charge) Urban Development Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation
30.Bandaru Dattatreya – Labour & Employment (Independent Charge)
31.Rajiv Pratap Rudy – Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (Independent Charge)
32.Vijay Goel – Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge), Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation
33.Shripad Yesso Naik – AAYUSH (Independent Charge)
34.Dharmendra Pradhan – Petroleum and Natural Gas (Independent Charge)
35.Piyush Goyal – Power (Independent Charge) Coal (Independent Charge) New and Renewable Energy (Independent Charge) Mines (Independent Charge)
36.Jitendra Singh – Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge), Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space
37.Nirmala Sitharaman – Commerce and Industry (Independent Charge)
38.Mahesh Sharma – Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge)
39.Manoj Sinha – Communications (Independent Charge), Railways
40.Anil Madhav Dave – Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge)
Ministers of state
41.V.K, Singh – External Affairs
42 Santosh Kumar Gangwar – Finance
43.Faggan Singh Kulaste – Health & Family Welfare
44.Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi – Minority Affairs, Parliamentary Affairs
45.SS Ahluwalia – Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, Parliamentary Affairs
46.Ramdas Athawale – Social Justice & Empowerment
47.Ram Kripal Yadav – Rural Development
48.Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary – Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises
49.Giriraj Singh – Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises
50.Hansraj Gangaram Ahir – Home Affairs
51.G.M. Siddeshwara – Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises
52.Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi – Drinking Water & Sanitation
53.Rajen Gohain – Railways
54.Parshottam Rupala – Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, Panchayati Raj
55.M.J. Akbar – External Affairs
56.Upendra Kushwaha – Human Resources Development
57.Radhakrishnan P, – Road Transport & Highways Shipping
58.Kiren Rijiju – Home Affairs
59.Krishan Pal – Social Justice & Empowerment
60.Jasvantsinh Sumanbhai Bhabhor – Tribal Affairs
61.Dr Sanjeev Kumar Balyan – Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation
62.Vishnu Deo Sai – Steel
63.Sudarshan Bhagat – Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
64.Y.S. Chowdary – Science & Technology, Earth Science
65.Jayant Sinha – Civil Aviation
66.Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore – Information & Broadcasting
67.Babul Supriyo – Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation
68.Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti – Food Processing Industries
69.Vijay Sampla – Social Justice & Empowerment
70.Arjun Ram Meghwal – Finance, Corporate Affairs
71.Mahendra Nath Pandey – Human Resource Development
72.Ajay Tamta – Textiles
73.Krishna Raj – Women & Child Development
74.Mansukh L Mandaviya – Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Chemicals & Fertilisers
75.Anupriya Patel – Health & Family Welfare
76.C.R. Chaudhary – Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution
77.P.P.Chaudhary – Law & Justice, Electronics & Information Technology
78.Subhash Ramrao Bhamre – Defence
(With inputs from PTI)
Note: In an earlier version of this article, it was incorrectly stated that the ministry V.K. Singh has lost in the latest reshuffle is DONER. It is, in fact, statistics and programme implementation.