PM Modi carries out major overhaul of cabinet; Sonowal, Scindia brought in; 12 ministers exit

NEW DELHI, 7 Jul: In a major overhaul, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday brought in Sarbananda Sonowal, Narayan Rane and Jyotiraditya Scindia in the cabinet while dropping as many as 12 ministers, including health minister Harsh Vardhan, IT and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and I&B minister Prakash Javadekar.

Fifteen cabinet ministers and 28 ministers of state, comprising new faces and those elevated, were sworn in at a ceremony held in the Darbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. While most of the members took oath in Hindi, a few of them took it in English.

This is the first reshuffle in the council of ministers by Prime Minister Modi since he assumed charge for a second term in May 2019.

An extensive and protracted review was carried out by Modi and the BJP top brass through a series of meetings with ministers ahead of Wednesday’s big exercise. These meetings were also held in the wake of widespread criticism of the central government’s handling of the Covid crisis.

Rane (69), a Rajya Sabha member and a former Maharashtra chief minister, was the first to take oath.

After Rane, Sonowal, former Assam chief minister, took oath. Congress-turned-BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, a Rajya Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh, also took oath as a cabinet minister.

Lok Sabha MP from Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh Virendra Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha Ashwini Vaishnaw, Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar and JD (U) leader RCP Singh, and Lok Sabha MP from Bihar’s Hajipur Pashupati Kumar Paras were also sworn in as cabinet ministers.

Kiren Rijiju, RK Singh, Hardeep Singh Puri, Mansukh Mandaviya, Parshottam Rupala, G Kishan Reddy and Anurag Thakur were elevated to the cabinet level.

Bhupendra Yadav, who has been serving in the BJP organization as a general secretary, was also sworn in as a cabinet minister.

As many as 28 MoS’ took oath, including seven from Uttar Pradesh.

Pankaj Choudhary, Anupriya Patel, Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma, Kaushal Kishore, SPS Baghel and Ajay Kumar – all Lok Sabha members from UP – took oath as new MoS’. BL Verma, a Rajya Sabha member from UP, was also sworn in as an MoS.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar and Shobha Karandlaje, MPs from Karnataka; Darshana Vikram Jardosh from Gujarat; New Delhi Lok Sabha MP Meenakashi Lekhi; Annpurna Devi (Jharkhand), A Narayanaswamy (Karnataka); Ajay Bhatt (Uttarakhand), Chauhan Devusinh (Gujarat), were also sworn in as MoS’.

Others who took oath as MoS’ at the ceremony were Bhagwanth Khuba (Karnataka); Kapil Moreshwar Patil (Maharashtra); Pratima Bhoumik (Tripura); Subhas Sarkar (West Bengal); Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad (Maharashtra); Rajkumar Ranjan Singh (Manipur); MPs Bharati Pawar (Maharashtra), Bishweswar Tudu (Odisha) and Shantanu Thakur (West Bengal) Munjapara Mahendrabhai (Gujarat), John Barla and Nisith Pramanik (West Bengal); and BJP’s Tamil Nadu state president L Murugan.

At least 16 entrants to the council of ministers are first-time MPs.

Earlier, four senior union ministers – Prasad, Javadekar, Vardhan and education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal – were among 12 ministers who resigned on Wednesday ahead of the cabinet reshuffle.

Besides these four, chemicals and fertilizers minister DV Sadananda Gowda, labour minister Santosh Gangwar, MoS for education Sanjay Dhotre, MoS for women and child development Debasree Chaudhuri, MoS for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria and MoS for Environment Babul Supriyo also resigned.

Social justice and empowerment minister Thaawarchand Gehlot had resigned after he was made governor of Karnataka on Tuesday.

Prasad and Javadekar, who had been the face of cabinet briefings, announcing key cabinet decisions on several occasions in the past few years, were present at the swearing-in ceremony here after resigning as ministers. Vardhan was also present at the ceremony.

With this reset, Modi has brought in young faces and has also given representation to various social groups and regions in the reshuffle. (PTI)