Nirmala Sitharaman took charge as the finance minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new Cabinet on Friday. She is only the second woman to be appointed finance minister after Indira Gandhi, who held the portfolio when she was the prime minister in 1970-’71, according to India Today.
Sitharaman, who served as the defence minister in the previous government from September 2017 to May 2019, is also in charge of the ministry of corporate affairs. Anurag Thakur, a first-time minister, is the minister of state for finance and corporate affairs.
As the defence minister, Sitharaman faced questions about alleged improprieties in the Rafale deal. She had alleged that previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had created a deadlock in the deal with France. The Congress, meanwhile, accused the government of buying overpriced jets, and helping Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence secure an offset contract under the deal after taking it away from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
Smriti Irani appointed women and child development minister
Smriti Irani was appointed the minister of women and child development, and she retained her post as the minister of textiles. At the age of 43, she is once again the youngest minister in the Modi government, according to India Today.
Irani had served as the minister of human resource development and later as the minister for information and broadcasting in the previous government.
The new government has only six women ministers, down from eight in the previous Council of Ministers. Sushma Swaraj, who served as minister of external affairs, Maneka Gandhi, who was the minister of women and child development, and Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation Uma Bharti were not included this time.
Other women ministers in the government are Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who has been appointed the minister of food processing industries, Niranjan Jyoti, who is a minister of state in the Ministry of Rural Development, Renuka Singh Saruta, a minister of state in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and Debasree Chaudhuri, a minister of state in the Ministry of Women and Child Development.