9 new faces, inducted, 4 MoS elevated to Cabinet rank

NEW DELHI, SEP 3: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inducted nine new faces in his ministry and elevated four ministers, including Piyush Goel (Power) and Nirmala Sitharaman (Commerce and Industries) to Cabinet rank.
The new ministers were sworn in by President Ram Nath Kovind at a glittering function at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The new entrants to the Union Cabinet include Shiv Pratap Shukla, Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh; Ashwini Choubey, Lok Sabha MP from Bihar’s Buxar; Veerandra Kumar, Lok Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh’s Tikam-gah. The others were Raj Kumar Singh, Lok Sabha MP from Bihar’s Arrah; Anantkumar Hegde, Lok Sabha MP from Karnataka; Hardeep Singh Puri, a highly-decorated former IFS officer; Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Lok Sabha MP from Rajasthan’s Jodhpur; Satya Pal Singh, Lok Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat and Alphons Kannanthanam, a distinguished former IAS officer of the 1979 batch, Kerala cadre.
Four Ministers of State were elevated to Cabinet rank. They were Ms Sitharaman, Mr Goel, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Dharmendra Pradhan. The changes, in the run-up to the Assembly elections in several states, seem clearly aimed at the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The new ministers, who come from diverse social and economic background, and possess rich administrative experience, have been selected by the Prime Minister with a clear mandate to deliver on his vision of new India, authoritative sources said.
It is worth mentioning that Nirmala Sitharaman is the first independent woman Defence Minister of India. However, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the first woman to hold the portfolio but only as additional charge till 1982.
The post of the defence minister fell vacant after Manohar Parrikar joined Goa state politics to become the chief minister of the state. Following this, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley took over, but only recently, he had hinted that he would not remain the defence minister for long.
58-year-old Sitharaman, who earlier held the independent charge of the commerce and industry ministry will now be part of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which comprises Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance Minster Arun Jaitley. Sitharaman recently hit the headlines when she travelled to China for a BRICS meeting, in the middle of a lengthy standoff at the border over Doklam.
Earlier in the day, Nirmala Sitharaman, who was serving as the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry was elevated as one of the Cabinet Ministers alongwith Dharmendra Pradhan, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Piyush Goyal.
Piyush Goyal has been made the new Railway Minister, after a spate of train accidents derailed Suresh Prabhu’s run.
Prabhu, a chartered accountant by profession, retained his cabinet rank in the reshuffle and will take over as the new commerce and industry minister.
Goyal, who was the Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy, was elevated to the cabinet rank in today’s reshuffle. Known for a clean image especially after having overseen scam-free auctions of coal blocks, he is also largely credited to have brought about a turnaround in coal production, ending days of domestic short supplies that had led to higher imports.
In the power sector, Goyal has managed the difficult task of improving accountability and viability in transmission and tariffs through the Udaan scheme.
However, senior railway officials say that taking over the railways at a time when general elections are just two years away could be a major challenge.
Goyal not only has to deliver many of Modi’s dream projects like electrification, high speed trains and green corridors, while at the same time reduce, if not eliminate accidents substantially.
He also has to find a way to do all this without any substantial rise in prices and at the same time boost railway revenues, they said.
Meanwhile, Prabhu congratulated Goyal on his appointment and offered his help to his cabinet colleague.
“Welcoming my long time dear friend, colleague @PiyushGoyal to @RailMinIndia. I offer all my help to him to make railways world class. All the best,” he tweeted.
Following the mega Union Cabinet reshuffle at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter and congratulated the ministers, who have taken oath today and said that their experience and wisdom would add immense value to the Council of Ministers.
“I congratulate all those who have taken oath today. Their experience & wisdom will add immense value to the Council of Ministers,” PM tweeted.
The Prime Minister particularly congratulated Dharmendra Pradhan, Nirmala Sitharaman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, and Piyush Goyal.
“I congratulate my colleagues @dpradhanbjp, @PiyushGoyal, @nsitharaman and @naqvimukhtar on joining the Union Cabinet,” he further wrote. (AGENCIES)