Major ministries unchanged in Modi 3.0

The broad signal of continuity with change is reinforced by the fact that the BJP has kept key portfolios including Education, Railways, Road Transport and Highways, Agriculture, Housing, Rural Development, Petroleum and Natural Gas…reports Asian Lite News

Continuing the work done in the second term with a refresh rather than a reboot – this is the key signal from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Council of Ministers as their portfolios were announced Monday evening, a day after the NDA government took oath for the third term.

Given the political imperatives of a coalition in which the BJP, short of a majority, needs allies, the Council may have been expanded to 72 but the portfolio allocation reflected continuity in critical areas where progress is cumulative – with no change in the Cabinet Cabinet on Security.

Rajnath Singh was retained as Defence Minister, so was Amit Shah as Home Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman as Finance Minister and S Jaishankar as External Affairs Minister. Shah also retained the Ministry of Cooperation while Sitharaman will continue to have Corporate Affairs portfolio with her besides Finance.

This also put to rest speculation on whether coalition compulsions would have a role to play in the composition of the CCS.

Keeping the CCS unchanged, Modi leveraged the experience and domain expertise of former Chief Ministers he inducted into his Cabinet. Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, credited for the transformation in the state’s agriculture sector, got charge at the national level where he is expected to bring fresh impetus to the Centre’s efforts to address agrarian challenges and stalled reforms after the repeal of the farm laws.

Two-term CM of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar has been given Housing and Urban Affairs – which will be in charge of the Smart City flagship program — and Power. H D Kumaraswamy, another two-term CM, will handle Heavy Industries and Steel, two key infrastructure sectors.

The broad signal of continuity with change is reinforced by the fact that the BJP has kept key portfolios including Education, Railways, Road Transport and Highways besides Agriculture, Housing and Urban Affairs, Rural Development, Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Indeed, as many as 15 ministers from the previous term have retained their portfolios including Rao Inderjit Singh (Statistics, Planning); Jitendra Singh (Science & Technology, Earth Sciences, MoS in the PMO; Personnel; Atomic Energy and Space); Arjun Ram Meghwal (Law and MoS Parliamentary Affairs).

Under Nitin Gadkari’s watch, the BJP government had made significant strides in expansion of highways and road network and Gadkari has been retained as Road Transport and Highways minister.

National president of BJP J P Nadda now handles Health as well as Chemicals and Fertilisers – the two ministries that will play a key role in expansion of the flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme and the Jan Aushadhi Scheme.

Modi, who stressed on continuity and stability in his internal meetings, according to a source, flagged the need to ensure minimum disruption in sectors where reforms are work in progress.

Piyush Goyal, who won his maiden Lok Sabha election from Mumbai North, will continue to handle Commerce and Industry. The Education Ministry, another significant portfolio in need of a sharper skills-based focus, remains with Dharmendra Pradhan, who secured an impressive electoral victory from Odisha where the party is set to form a government on its own for the first time after winning the state polls.

There is no change in the portfolios of Bhupender Yadav who was given Environment, Forest and Climate Change again. Former diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri has retained Petroleum and Natural Gas with Housing and Urban Affairs going to Khattar.

The BJP retained another key infrastructure ministry, Ports, Shipping and Waterways, which stayed with Sarbananda Sonowal. Similarly, the BJP has kept Railways. Ashwini Vaishnaw has been given that portfolio along with Information and Broadcasting and Electronics and Information Technology.

The portfolios of some Ministers have been switched. Giriraj Singh has been moved to Textiles from Rural Development and Panchayati Raj; Jyotiraditya Scindia to Communications from Civil Aviation; Mansukh Mandaviya to Labour and Employment and Youth Affairs Sports from Health; G Kishan Reddy to Coal and Mines from Culture and Tourism.

C R Paatil, president of Gujarat BJP unit, has been given charge of Jal Shakti ministry. His predecessor, Gajendra Shekhawat, is now the minister of Culture and Tourism. Modi has given the charge of Parliamentary affairs, a crucial role given the demands of coalition politics, to Kiren Rijiju. Women and Child Development, handled by Smriti Irani in the previous government, has gone to Annapurna Devi, an emerging leader from poll-bound Jharkhand. Virendra Kumar retained Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment;

Pralhad Joshi, who was in charge of Parliamentary Affairs and Coal and Mines, has been given Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution; and New and Renewable Energy Ministries. Tribal Affairs has gone to Jual Oram, who held the same portfolio in Modi’s first term.

Accommodating allies, whom he needs for stability in the government, Modi has allocated the key Civil Aviation portfolio to young TDP minister K Ram Mohan Naidu. Incidentally, the TDP had got Civil Aviation in 2014 as well when the Chandrababu Naidu-led party was a member of the ruling NDA.

Chirag Paswan, who represents the five-member LJP (Ram Vilas), got Food Processing, a ministry his father and Bihar veteran late Ram Vilas Paswan had held. Former president of 12-member JDU Rajiv Ranjan Lalan Singh has got Panchayati Raj and Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.

The ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), a sector that plays a crucial role in powering small businesses and job creation, has gone to one-member party HAM’s Jitan Ram Majhi.

Shiv Sena’s Jadhav Prataprao Ganpatrao, who is a Minister of State with independent charge has been given the Ministry of Ayush and MoS charge in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Similarly, RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary — another MoS (independent charge) — has been given Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and MoS charge in the Ministry of Education.

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