Jaishankar’s innings in the government is a rare instance of a career diplomat taking charge of the external affairs ministry.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday put his team in place with the “number two” Cabinet position of Union home minister going to his trusted lieutenant and debutant Amit Shah while incumbent Rajnath Singh was moved to defence. The big surprise came with the crucial and high-profile finance ministry going to Nirmala Sitharaman, who is now the first full-time woman finance minister of the country. In the previous term, she had become the first full-time woman defence minister.
The other debutant Cabinet inductee, S. Jaishankar, expectedly got the external affairs portfolio to replace Sushma Swaraj who had opted out of Lok Sabha elections due to health reasons.
Mr Jaishankar’s innings in the government is a rare instance of a career diplomat taking charge of the external affairs ministry.
A new Jal Shakti ministry, in which the erstwhile ministries of water resources and drinking water and sanitation will be merged, has been formed with Gajendra Singh Shekhawat at its helm.
With the induction of Mr Shah and Mr Jaishankar, there are two new faces in the all-powerful Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which is chaired by the Prime Minister and is the final decision-making body on matters related to country’s security, including defence policy and internal security. The CCS also includes defence and finance ministers.
Ms Sitharaman succeeded Arun Jaitley who opted out of the new government on health grounds. She will have a deputy in Anurag Thakur, a first-time minister of state in the Modi government. Both are considered close to Mr Jaitley.
The Prime Minister will retain the department of personnel and training, atomic energy and space as well as all important policy issues and portfolios not allocated.
Mr Modi was sworn-in on Thursday as Prime Minister for a second term, helming a 58-member team of ministers.
Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his family bastion of Amethi, will be the new women and child development minister. She will also retain the textile ministry, according to a communique issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Considered one of the best performers during the first term of Modi government for his expeditious project implementation, Nitin Gadkari will continue to be the minister for road transport and highways and has also been given charge of the Ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises in which the government is aiming to generate as mush employment as possible.
Piyush Goyal, who had presented the interim budget ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, has been given the commerce and industry ministry in addition to his old charge of railways. However, the coal ministry has been taken away from him and given to Pralhad Joshi, a new entrant into to the Modi Cabinet. Mr Joshi will also be the minister of parliamentary affairs and mines.
Ravi Shankar Prasad will continue as minister of law and information technology. In addition, he was allocated telecom, a portfolio he commanded in the first half of Modi 1.0 government.
Odisha strongman Dharmendra Pradhan retained his petroleum portfolio and has also been given charge of the steel ministry.
Former Uttarkhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhariyal “Nishank” is the new human resource development minister while Bihar ally and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswam remains consumer affairs minister.
The agriculture ministry has been allocated to Narendra Singh Tomar who also got the rural development and panchayati raj portfolios.
Prakash Javadekar has been given the ministries of information and broadcasting as well as environment.
Lone Delhi MP in Modi Cabinet, Harsh Vardhan, will be the health and family welfare minister. He will also head ministries of science and technology and earth sciences.
D.V. Sadananda Gowda will be the minister of chemicals and fertilizers and Thawar Chand Gehlot will be new minister of social justice and empowerment.
Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal will continue to be the minister of food processing industries.
Former diplomat Hardeep Puri will be new minister of state (independent charge) of civil aviation while former IAS bureaucrat R.K. Singh will retain the ministries of power and renewable energy in the same capacity.
Eight-term BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh Santosh Kumar Gangwar will be minister of state (independent charge) of labour and employment.