New Delhi: The number of women ministers has nearly been doubled from the first term after the cabinet reshuffle by the Narendra Modi government on Wednesday, according to a report in the Indian Express.
While there were six women ministers in the previous term, this term there are eleven, the highest number since 2004. Both the governments led by Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each of its tenures.
In addition to the existing cabinet ministers Nirmala Sitaraman and Smriti Irani, and Ministers of State Sadhavi Niranjan Jyoti and Renuka Singh, seven more women were inducted into the government.
“Youngest in the history of India having significant representation of women ministers…” The Council of Ministers reflects the Prime Minister’s “commitment towards women-led development & fulfilling aspirations of a New AatmaNirbhar Bharat,” said women and child development minister Smriti Irani said on Twitter.
The addition of more women ministers comes in the wake of two recent assembly elections, where women played a decisive role in influencing the outcome of the election results. In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee recorded a landslide victory earlier this year after banking on support from the female electorate in the state. In Bihar as well, Nitish Kumar was re-elected after largely retaining his female voter base.
As the female electorate emerges as a dominant voting bloc, the decision to include more women in the cabinet is seen as a move undertaken with an eye on the general elections in 2024.
Among the women newly inducted as ministers are Anupriya Singh Patel, the MP from BJP’s ally Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh’s Mirzapur. Patel had served as the minister of state for health in the first term of the Modi government and used to work as a professor at Amity University before joining politics.
Shobha Karandlaje, the MP from Karnataka’s Udupi Chikmagalur is also a newly inducted minister and a two-time MP. She was previously a cabinet minister in the Karnataka government and is considered to be close to chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa. Karandlaje will replace D. Sadananda Gowda as a representative from the southern state.
Darshana Vikram Jardosh, 60, who is a three-term MP, has been also been inducted as a minister in a purported move to reward her winning her seat in Surat when the BJP’s support base was threatened by the Patel-Patidar movement. She has previously been a corporator with the Surat municipal corporation as well as a member of the Gujarat Social Welfare Board.
Meenakshi Lekhi, the second term MP from New Delhi, is another prominent leader to have been inducted as a minister. Lekhi is a Supreme Court lawyer by profession. Other women who have been inducted include Annapurna Devi, the MP from Jharkhand’s Koderma, Pratima Bhowmik, MP from Tripura West, and Bharti Praveen Pawar, the MP from Maharashtra’s Dindori.