Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expanded his Union Council of Ministers with 19 new Ministers of State. President Pranab Mukherjee administered oath to these new ministers, and elevated MoS Prakash Javadekar to a Cabinet rank.
The portfolios for the newly inducted ministers will be made known by the Union government later this evening. Earlier in the day, five ministers tendered their resignations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They are Nihalchand, Ram Shankar Katheria, Sanwar Lal Jat, Manuskhbhai D Vasva and M K Kundariya.
The ceremony took place at the Darbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where senior leaders of the BJP were present. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier tweeted that she would not be able to make it due to an engagement with the Foreign Minister of Hungary
Who are the new faces?
The new faces in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers come mainly from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Here are the names of those inducted today: SS Ahluwalia, Ramesh Chandappa Jigjinagi, Parshottam Rupala, MJ Akbar, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Anil Madhav Dave, Vijay Goel, Rajen Gohain, Mahendra Nath Pandey, CR Chaudhary, PP Chaudhary, Ramdas Athawale, Subhash Ramrao Bhamre, Jasvant Sinh Bhabhor, Mansukh Mandaviya, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Ajay Tamta, Anupriya Singh Patel, and Krishna Raj.
Anupriya Patel, the Apna Dal MP from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, is the daughter of party founder Sone Lal Patel, she has been veering the Uttar Pradesh party towards the BJP in the run up to the elections. There is widespread speculation that the party will merge with the BJP before the elections.
Prakash Javadekar gets promotion
Minister of State for Environment Prakash Javadekar was promoted to the Cabinet rank in the latest reshuffle of the Narendra Modi government. He took oath today at a function at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Javadekar had earlier held the Information and Broadcasting portfolio also, but Finance Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was handed over this ministry.
Focus is clearly on Uttar Pradesh
By inducting three fresh faces from Uttar Pradesh into the union council of of ministers, Prime Minister Modi has attempted to balance caste equations in the run-up to the UP assembly polls and also increase the dominance of poll-bound states in the central government. Lalmani Verma, in this piece, argues that the induction of Anupriya Patel could well be an an attempt to balance the OBC caste equation after the Samajwadi Party recently took back senior leader and ex-union minister Beni Prasad Verma (a Kurmi) and sent him to Rajya Sabha.
Real target not SP, but Mayawati
Moreover, of the 19 ministers inducted into Narendra Modi’s council of ministers, at least five are Dalits, two are from the OBC communities and three are from the Scheduled Tribes category. The BJP, which has appointed Keshav Prasad Maurya, a prominent non-Yadav OBC leader as its state chief in UP, has given a clear signal that its focus in the state assembly polls will be the non-Jatav Dalits and non-Yadav OBCs.
Mayawati’s BSP with its 20 per cent Dalit vote base would not be able to form the government unless it can draw in the support of other Dalit groups, some OBCs, Muslims and Upper Castes — a formula it practiced to perfection in 2007 when it came to power with a clear majority.
The Patidar factor in new faces from Gujarat
The inclusion of Rupala and Mandaviya – both Patidars from Saurashtra region – is a clear sign of giving voice to the Patidar community which is the core of BJP’s vote bank in Gujarat and which has been in revolt for the past one year with demands for reservation.
Belonging to the Kadva faction of the Patidar community, Rupala is believed to be an Amit Shah loyalist, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha only last month.
Mandaviya, 44, is a Leuva Patidar from Bhavnagar district of Saurashtra. He is considered to be an Anandiben Patel loyalist who was part of the team that worked to contain the Patidar quota stir.
Five ministers dropped
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dropped five of his ministers on Tuesday. Nihal Chand, Ram Shankar Katheria, Sanwar Lal Jat, Manuskhbhai D Vasva and M K Kundariya were the ministers who will be exiting the council.
While Nihal Chand and Sanwar Lal Jat are MPs from Rajasthan, Katheria hails from UP. Both Mohanbhai Kundariya and Mansukhbhai Vasva are leaders from Gujarat.
Ramdas Athawale goofs up
RPI leader Ramdas Athawale forgot to say his name while taking oath as a minister of state at the Rashtrapati Bhawan earlier today. The Maharashtra leader had to be nudged by President Pranab Mukherjee to take his name mid-way into the oath.
Athawale is a Dalit leader and is a member of the Rajya Sabha. Athawale’s party, the Republican Party of India, is an ally of the BJP in Maharashtra.