Prime Minister Narendra Modi expanded his Cabinet by 19 members on Tuesday, and made key appointments to keep voters happy ahead of the state elections in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab next year. The swearing in took place at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, at 11 am. Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah had spoken to the new inductees on Monday, and invited them to his house for a briefing, the Hindustan Times reported. Modi last reshuffled his Cabinet in November 2014.
The cap for ministers in the Union Cabinet is 83, but the National Democratic Alliance government currently has just 64. Modi said Tuesday’s event would be an expansion, not a reshuffle, and that it would focus on implementing this year’s Budget goals of agricultural expansion and the development of weaker sections of society.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar was promoted to a Cabinet rank. Among the new leaders inducted into the Cabinet were MPs Mansukh L Mandaviya and P Rupala from Gujarat, Rajen Gohain of Assam, Ramdas Athawale from Maharashtra, PP Choudhary and CR Choudhary from Rajasthan, FS Kulaste and Ramesh Jigajinagi from Madhya Pradesh, Krishna Raj and MN Pandey from Uttar Pradesh.
The new names have a mix of leaders from across fields and castes, an effort by the BJP government to create a more diverse Cabinet.
Agra MP Ram Katheria was dropped, and said, “Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah have given responsibility to new people, I welcome them.” Others who were removed from the Council of Ministers included Nihalchand, Sanwar Lal Jat, Manuskhbhai D Vasva, MK Kundariya.