Indian prime minister reshuffles cabinet

Bhupendra Yadav who is the BJP's man in-charge of Gujarat is among those likely to be made a minister

"It seemed as if BJP president Amit Shah is the Prime Minister of India and not Narendra Modi". The promotion of Nirmala Sitharaman as defence minister, the second woman in the prestigious Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) besides Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, and continuation of Smriti Irani as minister in charge of textiles as well as information and broadcasting would surely count as popular moves by a Prime Minister largely known for his masculine image.

Sitharaman is the first woman Defence Minister of the country.

Reacting to her appointment, Sithraman said she felt very humbled and she can not describe her recognition in words.

The speculation that ministers of state Rajyavardhan Rathore and Jitendra Singh, who were also seen as good performers in their respective ministries, would be elevated proved to be ravings in the grapevine.

Ahead of the reshuffle, six ministers resigned.

The cabinet re-shuffle saw Dharmendra Pradhan getting additional charge of Skill Development Ministry.

Naqvi, the lone Muslim face in the Modi cabinet, said priority of the government was to empower the weaker sections of society and work towards the goal of achieving "New India".

He said relieving skill development minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) minister Kalraj Mishra meant no skilling and no employment generation besides wiping out of the MSME sector. He was serving as the MoS in the ministry. Puri and Alphons are not MPs and will have to get elected to Parliament in six months.

However, the main opposition party said the reshuffle reflected "maximum government and no governance", claiming that Modi "seemed strangely disconnected" from the exercise. Uma Bharti has lost the key portfolio of ganga development for lack of performance as it falls in the PM's constituency of Varanasi. Both are from western Uttar Pradesh.

The nine junior ministers inducted into the council of ministers are Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, Shiv Pratap Shukla, Lok Sabha MPs Ashwini Kumar Chaubey (from Buxar, Bihar), Virendra Kumar (Tikamgarh, MP), Anant Kumar Hegde (Uttara Kannada, Karnataka), Gajendra Singh Shekhawat (Jodhpur, Rajasthan), RK Singh (Arrah, Bihar) and Satyapal Singh (Baghpat, UP) along with KJ Alphons and Hardeep Singh Puri - both of whom are now not members of either House of Parliament and are likely to be inducted into the Rajya Sabha within the next six months. Hegde, a Lok Sabha MP from Uttara Kannada, is seen as a rabble-rouser, having won five elections.

While he has picked people with proven administrative and professional expertise such as Puri, Satyapal Singh (61), R K Singh (64) and Kannanthanam, he has also chosen lingayat leader Hegde from Karnataka and farmer leaders Shekhawat and Kumar from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.



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