Modi compresses 17 ministries into seven groups

Modi compresses 17 ministries into seven groups

Keeping to his campaign pledge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday clubbed 17 different ministries into seven distinct groups to ensure better synergy in their functioning.

Modi had highlighted his pet theme ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ during the election campaign and talked about a lean Council of Ministers – a model he had adopted during his tenure as chief minister of Gujarat.

Senior leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, M Venkaiah Naidu and Piyush Goyal have been the beneficiaries of the restructuring exercise. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, carved out during the UPA rule, has been brought back under the Ministry for External Affairs with Swaraj at the helm. She would be assisted by Minister of State V K Singh, who also has Development of North Eastern Region as independent charge.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has been clubbed with the Finance Ministry with Jaitley in the lead. He would be assisted by MoS Nirmala Sitharaman, who will also handle the Commerce and Industry portfolio independently.

In the infrastructure sector, Modi has combined Road Transport and Highways and Shipping into one ministry headed by Gadkari, who never tires of recounting his tenure as PWD Minister in Maharashtra government during which he had adopted an innovative approach in expanding road transport network and bridges.

Piyush Goyal has been made a junior minister with independent charge of Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy ministries. These used to be separate ministries headed by Cabinet-rank ministers in the UPA governments.

Venkaiah Naidu is the minister of Urban Development, Housing and Poverty Alleviation, while Rural Development, Panchayat Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation have been grouped together under Gopinath Munde.

However, Modi may not be implementing any fresh ideas, except in Goyal’s case, as such omnibus ministries have existed earlier. The UPA had to hive off various departments into separate ministries to accommodate ministerial aspirants from within the Congress and its coalition partners.

Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had brought together the infrastructure department of Railways, Shipping and Civil Aviation under one combined Ministry of Transport headed by the late Bansi Lal.

He had also clubbed education, culture and women and child development under the Ministry of Human Resources Development under the late P V Narasimha Rao. The HRD ministry was created for the first time then.

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