New Delhi: In a major Union cabinet reshuffle and expansion, Mansukh Mandaviya has been made the new health minister, replacing Harsh Vardhan, dropped by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the wake of his government’s controversial handling of the Covid pandemic. Mandaviya, who was until now minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers, will take full charge of that ministry as well.
Odisha Rajya Sabha MP Ashwini Vaishnav has been made the new minister of railways and has also been given the additional portfolios of communications and electronics and information technology (IT). The former Congress leader who joined the BJP last year, Jyotiraditya Scindia, has been made the civil aviation minister, while Kiren Rijiju has moved from sports to law and justice and given full cabinet rank.
Anurag Thakur will be the new minister for information and broadcasting, as well as sports.
Piyush Goyal, who lost railways, has been given additional charge of textiles, formerly the portfolio of Smriti Irani, whose sole charge now will be women and child development. Hardeep Puri, who sheds civil aviation, has been given the more weighty portfolio of petroleum and natural gas, in addition to his urban development charge, and made a full member of the cabinet.
Dharmendra Pradhan has been moved from petroleum to education and skill development.
Former Assam chief minister Sarbanada Sonowal has been appointed minister for shipping, with additional charge of AYUSH.
In addition to being Union home minister, Amit Shah will now handle a new ministry titled ‘ministry of cooperation’. The details of what this new portfolio entails are not fully known but tweets from ministers on Tuesday suggest its remit is cooperatives.
The culture portfolio has been given to G. Kishan Reddy, now elevated to cabinet rank, along with tourism and development of the north-east region.
Apart from Harsh Vardhan, the cabinet ministers dropped include former IT and Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, former information and broadcasting and environment Prakash Javadekar, education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and chemicals and fertilisers minister Sadanand Gowda.
With 43 new faces inducted into the Union Cabinet on Wednesday, the council of ministers has now been expanded to 77 from earlier 53. As per the constitutional provisions, the maximum strength of the Union Cabinet can be 81.
Others inducted into the Union Cabinet include former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane, now in charge of MSME industries, Virendra Kumar (social justice), Ramchandra Prasad Singh (steel), Pashu Pati Kumar Paras of the LJP (food processing) and Bhupendra Yadav (environment and labour).
New ministers of state include Rajeev Chandrasekhar (IT), Meenakshi Lekhi (external affairs and cuture),
Nisith Pramanik (35) of Cooch Behar becomes the youngest member in Modi’s cabinet.
Ahead of the Union cabinet rejig, the other ministers who resigned included ministers of state for environment Babul Supriyo, human resources development Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, women and child development Debasree Chaudhuri, Jal Shakti Ratan Lal Kataria, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries Pratap Sarangi, and social justice and empowerment minister Thaawarchand Gehlot. Gehlot was earlier appointed Karnataka governor.
The Union council of ministers, which can have 81 members, now has 78 ministers including the prime minister.
This story has been updated with portfolios of ministers.