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Cabinet Expansion: Parrikar, Prabhu Get Defence, Rail

NOVEMBER 10, 2014

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Cabinet Expansion: Parrikar, Prabhu Get Defence, Rail



PM Narendra Modi has expanded his Cabinet keeping the imperatives of both governance and politics in mind. He has brought in 21 new faces and also changed the leadership of key ministries in his cabinet. His political calculations in the choice of ministers are aimed at spreading the party footprint in crucial states going to polls.


The most prominent cabinet change is the shifting of D V Sadananda Gowda from Railways to Law and Justice, with the Railways going to Suresh Prabhu and induction of former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar as Defence Minister. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has been shifted to the rather low-profile Science, Technology and Earth Sciences portfolio but the move is being seen as a move to free him for the BJP’s Delhi Assembly campaign. He has been replaced by J P Nadda in the cabinet.


Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley maintains his prominent position in the cabinet by assuming the charge of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry from Prakash Javadekar. Former Army chief Gen V K Singh, has been relieved of the Development of North-Eastern Region while Gautam Budh Nagar MP Mahesh Sharma, a trusted RSS man, has been made a Minister of State (Independent charge), Culture and Tourism as well as MoS, Civil Aviation. Likewise, Nitin Gadkari has been relieved of Rural Development Ministry, which goes to Birender Singh, who will also be Minister of Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation, while Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has been relieved of Law and Justice.

The cabinet expansion lays down a roadmap for the party to establish itself as a credible alternative to other parties in those states where the BJP isn’t the main player, including Bihar and Punjab where it is in an alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal). This probably explains why a controversial figure like Bihar leader Giriraj Singh, a Bhumihar, was among the first ones to voice the Modi-as-PM chant and who said that Modi’s critics should go to Pakistan, has been rewarded with a ministry. However, the expansion was overshadowed by the Siv Sena's pullout from the BJP ministry. Miffed over Modi’s decision to Suresh Prabhu without its consent, the Sena stopped its member Anil Desai from joining the government. Prabhu quit the Sena and joined the BJP hours before he took oath as a cabinet minister.


Modi has also tried his best to balance the caste equations in the cabinet, especially in like Bihar, UP and Punjab, which will face polls in the next three years. Thus, a minister of state (independent charge) to a Brahmin — Gautam Buddha Nagar MP Mahesh Sharma — is a signal to the UP Brahmins who are unhappy with the BSP and the Samajwadi Party and cannot to find solace in the Congress. An eye on the future explains the induction of Agra MP Ram Shankar Katheria and Fatehpur MP Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, a Dalit and a Nishad respectively. From West Bengal, Modi has chosen Babul Supriyo, a singer-turned politician whom he had promised, during the campaign, to make him a national hero. Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya and Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary from Gujarat, have been Modi’s loyal soldiers for long. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was handpicked but parked in the Minority Affairs Ministry as MoS with additional charge of Parliamentary Affairs.


The surprise induction of Hoshiarpur MP Vijay Sampla as MoS is another indication of the BJP planning on life without the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) in Panjab. Sampla, a Dalit, is part of the BJP’s efforts to become a major anti-SAD, anti-Congress force in Panjab which has the highest percentage of Dalit population at 32 per cent. Modi and the BJP will not easily forget that despite being in alliance with it, Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal and his party leadership campaigned for Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal in the recent Haryana Assembly elections, which the BJP won.


Caste equations have played a part in the choice of Sanwar Lal Jat and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (a Rajput) as ministers from Rajasthan, which does not have a Cabinet-rank representation at the Centre despite 25 Lok Sabah MPs from Rajasthan. A Cabinet berth for J P Nadda, a Modi loyalist, is also a hint to party’s HP strongman Prem Kumar Dhumal that Nadda is the party’s future there. The entry of former Congressman Birender Singh, who defected sides before the Assemly elections is to pacify the Jats since the BJP has a non-Jat Punjabi as Haryana’s chief minister.


Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has its fingerprints on the reshuffle. Hansraj Gangaram Ahir from Maharashtra, the four-time MP from Chandrapur and a whistle blower in the coal block scam is close to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. The Sangh is believed to have strongly lobbied for Parrikar, Nadda, Giriraj Singh, Dattatreya, Sharma and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti.


Here is a complete list of the Union Cabinet members:


1. Rajnath Singh: Home Affairs

2. Sushma Swaraj: External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs

3. Arun Jaitley: Finance, Corporate Affairs, Information & Broadcasting

4. M. Venkaiah Naidu: Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Parliamentary Affairs

5. Nitin Jairam Gadkari: Road Transport and Highways, Shipping

6. Manohar Parrikar: Defence

7. Suresh Prabhu: Railways

8. D.V. Sadananda Gowda: Law & Justice

9. Uma Bharati: Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation

10. Najma A. Heptulla: Minority Affairs

11. Ramvilas Paswan: Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution

12. Kalraj Mishra: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

13. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi: Women and Child Development

14. Ananthkumar: Chemicals and Fertilizers

15. Ravi Shankar Prasad: Communications and Information Technology

16. Jagat Prakash Nadda: Health & Family Welfare

17. Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati: Civil Aviation

18. Anant Geete: Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises

19. Harsimrat Kaur Badal: Food Processing Industries

20. Narendra Singh Tomar: Mines, Steel

21. Chaudhary Birender Singh: Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation

22. Jual Oram: Tribal Affairs

23. Radha Mohan Singh: Agriculture

24. Thaawar Chand Gehlot: Social Justice and Empowerment

25. Smriti Irani: Human Resource Development

26. Dr. Harsh Vardhan: Science and Technology, Earth Sciences



27. General V.K. Singh: Statistics and Programme Implementation (Independent Charge), External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs

28. Inderjit Singh Rao: Planning (Independent Charge), Defence

29. Santosh Kumar Gangwar: Textiles (Independent Charge)

30. Bandaru Dattatreya: Labour and Employment (Independent Charge)

31. Rajiv Pratap Rudy: Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (Independent Charge), Parliamentary Affairs

32. Shripad Yesso Naik: AAYUSH (Independent Charge), Health & Family Welfare

33. Dharmendra Pradhan: Petroleum and Natural Gas (Independent Charge)

34. Sarbananda Sonowal: Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge)

35. Prakash Javadekar: Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge)

36. Piyush Goyal: Power (Independent Charge), Coal (Independent Charge), New and Renewable Energy (Independent Charge)

37. Dr. Jitendra Singh: Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge), Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space

38. Nirmala Sitharaman: Commerce and Industry (Independent Charge)

39. Dr. Mahesh Sharma: Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge), Civil Aviation

40. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi: Minority Affairs, Parliamentary Affairs

41. Ram Kripal Yadav: Drinking Water & Sanitation

42. Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary: Home Affairs

43. Sanwar Lal Jat: Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation

44. Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya: Agriculture

45. Giriraj Singh: Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises

46. Hansraj Gangaram Ahir: Chemicals & Fertilizers

47. G.M. Siddeshwara: Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises

48. Manoj Sinha: Railways

49. Nihalchand: Panchayati Raj

50. Upendra Kushwaha: Human Resource Development

51. Radhakrishnan P.: Road Transport & Highways, Shipping

52. Kiren Rijiju: Home Affairs

53. Krishan Pal: Social Justice & Empowerment

54. Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan: Agriculture

55. Manuskhbhai Dhanjibhai Vasava: Tribal Affairs

56. Raosaheb Dadarao Danve: Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution

57. Vishnu Deo Sai: Mines, Steel

58. Shri Sudarshan Bhagat: Rural Development

59. Prof. (Dr.) Ram Shankar Katheria: Human Resource Development

60. Y.S. Chowdary: Science and Technology, Earth Science

61. Jayant Sinha: Finance

62. Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore: Information & Broadcasting

63. Babul Supriyo: Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation

64. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti: Food Processing Industries

65. Vijay Sampla: Social Justice & Empowerment


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