Amit Shah is new Home Minister, Sitharaman gets Finance

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new Cabinet, which will guide the fortunes of the country for the next five years, fell into place on Friday, with Amit Shah, the powerful BJP president and master strategist, getting the important Home portfolio. (PTI Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new Cabinet, which will guide the fortunes of the country for the next five years, fell into place on Friday, with Amit Shah, the powerful BJP president and master strategist, getting the important Home portfolio.

Rajnath Singh has moved to the Ministry of Defence while Nirmala Sitharaman, who became the first woman defence minister, added another feather in her cap as she became the country’s first full-time woman Finance Minister.

In another interesting development, S Jaishankar became the first former foreign secretary to be the country’s External Affairs Minister.

President Ram Nath Kovind allocated the portfolio on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said.

Sitharaman, who succeeds Arun Jaitley, retained her space in the all-powerful Cabinet Committee of Security in which Shah, Rajnath and Jaishankar have a place but Piyush Goyal and Smriti Irani did not make the cut. Jaitley opted out of government citing ill health; Nirmala is considered his protege.

Goyal, who handled the Ministry of Finance when Jaitley went on leave, and even presented the last budget, will continue to handle Railways along with a new assignment, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. In the Commerce Ministry, Goyal succeeds Suresh Prabhu, who was also Civil Aviation Minister.

Irani has been assigned Women and Child Development, which was handled by Maneka Gandhi, along with Textiles, which she handled in the first Modi government.

Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ will be the new HRD Minister while Prakash Javadekar, who handled HRD in the previous government, will lead the Ministries of Environment and Information and Broadcasting. Javadekar had handled Information and Broadcasting Ministry in the early years of the first Modi government.

Harsh Vardhan is the new Health Minister in place of J P Nadda, who is speculated to succeed Shah as BJP president. He will also handle Science and Technology Ministry.

Modi has assigned Agriculture Ministry to Narendra Singh Tomar, who in addition will handle Rural Development and Panchayati Raj. Tomar replaces Radha Mohan Singh, who was dropped this time, in the Agriculture Ministry.

Nitin Gadkari has added Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to his portfolio while retaining Road Transport and Highways. Ramvilas Paswan, Harsimrat Kaur, Tawarchand Gehlot and Ravishankar Prasad are other senior ministers who have retained their portfolios in the new government.

From Karnataka, D Sadananda Gowda has been allocated Chemical and Fertilisers Minister while Pralhad Joshi will handle Coal and Mines as well as Parliamentary Affairs. Suresh Angadi will be Minister of State in Railways.

Arjun Munda is the new Tribal Minister while Giriraj Singh, who was promoted to the Cabinet, gets Skill, Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.

The Ministry of Water Resources has been renamed as ‘Jal Shakti’ Ministry and Gajendra Shekhawat, who was also promoted to the Cabinet, has been named the minister.

Among the Ministers of State with independent charge, Kiren Rijiju has got Sports, Santosh Gangwar Labour and Employment and Jitendra Singh, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region. Jitendra Singh is also Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Prahalad Singh Patel is the new Culture Minister while Hardeep Singh Puri is the new Civil Aviation Minister.

Interestingly, Minister of State Gen V K Singh, who was MoS External Affairs, will assist Gadkari in the Transport Ministry. V Muralidharan, a Malayali Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra, will assist Jaishankar in the External Affairs Ministry as well as Pralhad Joshi in Parliamentary Affairs.

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