The BJP government at the centre has changed a lot of faces in it’s cabinet ministry. After completing two years since it has come to power, it’s the first time that the Narendra Modi government has made major changes in its cabinet. The biggest change that was seen in the reshuffle was that Smriti Irani got shifted from the HRD ministry to Textile ministry. The Narendra Modi government has added 19 more ministers to its cabinet in a major change to the government. The government now has 77 ministers which is just a little less than the upper limit which is set at 82. The government has tried to include ministers from all social and religious groups in an attempt to connect with voters as elections are approaching in Uttar Pradesh, which is the most populous state in India and also sends the maximum number of MP’s to the parliament.
Considering the fact that elections were approaching in a few prominent states of the country, a shuffle in the cabinet was being expected. While Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj retained their home and external affairs portfolios, Smriti Irani who had contested against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, was shifted from the Human Resources portfolio to Textiles. The MP saw some controversies in her two year tenure as the HRD ministry, prominent among them are the JNU sedition case and the Rohit Vermula case. According to experts, this may have been done to free Smriti Irani from her duties so that she could take a more active part in campaigning for the ruling party. It seems like a viable move due to the approaching elections in 2-3 states. The HRD ministry will now be taken up by Prakash Javedkar.
The finance portfolio still remains with Arun Jaitley and Venkiah Naidu will hold the urban housing ministry. A large number of the cabinet ministers retained their earlier positions like Nitin Gadkari, Uma Bharti, Manohar Parrikar and Suresh Prabhu who retained the Road Transport and Highways, Water Resources, Defence and the Railways portfolio respectively. Arun Jaitley has to let go Information and Broadcasting ministry and it lies under the control of Venkiah Naidu, who has been entrusted with this additional charge. Ravi Shankar Prasad, who earlier was in charge of the Telecom portfolio will now be the new law and order minister. Additionally, he also has the Electronics and Information technology portfolio.
Birendra Singh has to let go Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water & Sanitation and gets Steel portfolio. Sadananda Gowda has to let go Law and Justice and will handle Statistics and Programme Implementation. Ananthkumar retained Chemicals and Fertilizers portfolio and has gained additional charge of Parliamentary Affairs.
A large change was also seen in the earlier list of ministers of states. There were some new additions and there were also some alterations in the current ministers list. M.J. Akbar, who is a former journalist was made a state minister for the Ministry Of External Affairs. Anupriya Patel and S.S. Ahluwalia got Health & Family Welfare, and Agriculture portfolios respectively. The Communications portfolio to be handled by Manoj Sinha. Santosh Gangwar to handle Finance and let go Textiles, Mahesh Sharma retains Culture and Tourism portfolio and loses Civil Aviation, Vishnu Deo Sai retains Steel and has to let go Mines. Hansrak Ahir will handle Home Ministry and has to let go Chemicals and Fertilizers portfolio. Kiren Rijiju has been given Home Affairs and Krishna Raj to handle Women and Child Development.
These are major changes made in the list of ministers of state. So the number of Ministers in the Modi cabinet has grown and is now just 5 shy of the maximum upper limit of ministers, this action is being seen by many as an attempt at voter appeasement.