BJP keeps foreign affairs, home, finance, defence

Published June 11, 2024
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds the first cabinet meeting in New Delhi, on Monday.—AFP
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds the first cabinet meeting in New Delhi, on Monday.—AFP

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday retained Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman and S. Jaishankar in charge of the four high-profile ministries — Home, Defence, Finance and External Affairs — respectively in his new government.

The four ministers in charge of these portfolios make up the crucial Cabinet Committee on Security headed by the prime minister.

Among new entrants, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has got Agriculture and Rural Development Ministries, while BJP President J.P. Nadda has returned to the Health Ministry, a portfolio he had held in the Modi government’s first term before he took charge of the ruling BJP first as the working president in 2019 and then as the full-fledged president in 2020.

Credited with boosting the highway network across the country, Nitin Gadkari has retained the charge of the Road Transport and Highways Ministry.

No Muslim member has been made minister

Former Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has been allocated the Housing and Urban Affairs, and Power Ministries.

Ashwini Vaishnaw, a rising star in the government who was in charge of crucial Railways, and Electronics and Information Technology ministries, has not only retained these portfolios but has also been given the important Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

Dharmendra Pradhan and Piyush Goyal will also continue to be in charge of the Education, and Commerce and Industry Ministries, respectively.

Hardeep Singh Puri has retained the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry, but shed the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry.

President Droupadi Murmu directed the allocation of portfolios to 72 members of the Union Council of Ministers, including the prime minister, as advised by Mr Modi, according to an official statement.

Kiren Rijiju has been moved from Earth Sciences to the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, while Arjun Ram Meghwal will continue as Law Minister and Sarbananda Sonowal has retained the Shipping portfolio. Bhupender Yadav has retained the Environment Ministry.

Among the five allies, former chief minister of Karnataka H.D. Kuma­raswamy has got Heavy Industries, and Steel ministries, Jitan Ram Manjhi (HAM-Secular) has Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry, and Lalan Singh (Janata Dal-United) Panchayati Raj, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Ministries.

TDP’s K. Rammohan Naidu has got the Civil Aviation Ministry and LJP (Ram Vilas) leader Chirag Paswan has been allocated the Food Processing Industries Ministry.

Amit Shah has also retained the Cooperation Ministry, while Sitharaman will continue to handle the Corporate Affairs.

Virendra Kumar has retained the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, while Jual Oram is the new Tribal Affairs Minister. There are two women in the cabinet, but no Muslim.

Agencies add: Ministerial posts were allotted a day after Mr Modi was sworn in for a rare third term, and his cabinet held its first meeting on Monday evening.

Mr Modi’s decade as premier has seen him cultivate an image as an aggressive champion of the country’s majority Hindu faith, worrying minorities including the country’s 200-million-plus Muslim community.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2024

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