Indian prime minister reshuffles cabinet


NEW DELHI, Sept. 4– Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday
rejigged his Cabinet, inducting nine new faces, reshuffling few others and
dropping six non-performers.

All the nine new ministers were administered the oath of office by Indian
President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan, his official
residence. But there has been no change in the top three slots, with
Rajnath Singh retaining the Home Ministry, Arun Jaitley the Finance
Ministry and Sushma Swaraj the External Affairs Ministry. Jaitley, who
held the additional charge of the Defense Ministry, however, shed the
military portfolio, making way for a new woman Defense Minister — Nirmala
Sitharaman. In fact, Sitharaman, 58, became only the second woman in the
country to hold the post of defense minister after Indira Gandhi, the
country’s first woman prime minister. She earlier held the Commerce
Ministry.

Another major change was implemented in the crucial Railway Ministry, which
operates one of the world’s largest train networks, ferrying over 12
million passengers daily. Power Minister Piyush Goyal became the new Rail
Minister, taking over from Suresh Prabhu who had last week offered to
resign in the wake of two back-to-back rail accidents. Prabhu, who exited
as Railway Minister, became the new Commerce Minister, the Ministry that
was held by Sitharaman. Among the new ministers are a former police chief
of Mumbai, Satya Pal Singh, retired career diplomat Hardeep Puri and two
former bureaucrats, one of who was a former Home Secretary. Earlier in the
morning, Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah met the
new ministers at the Prime Minister’s residence and told them to “do a good
job.” Last week, at least six non-performing ministers resigned from the
cabinet. The council of ministers will now have 76 ministers, up from 73.
It can have a maximum 81 members.This is said to be the last major cabinet
reshuffle before the general elections in 2019. – XINHUA