New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) In the first major reshuffle of his over-two-year-old government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday sprang a major surprise when he replaced his onetime trusted lieutenant and Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani and brought in former Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in her place.
The four major portfolios of Home (Rajnath Singh), Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs), Arun Jaitley (Finance) and Manohar Parrikar (Defence) were left untouched, but Ravi Shankar Prasad was divested of Communications and allotted Law while Parliamentary Affairs has been taken away from M. Venkaiah Naidu.
Naidu however has been given additional charge of the I&B Ministry (held currently by Jaitley) apart from his existing Urban Development and Housing portfolio, said an official source.
Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar will be the new Parliamentary Affairs Minister also.
Irani has been made Textiles Minister, replacing Santosh Gangwar who will be now be Minister of State for Finance. Former bureaucrat Arjun Meghwal, who was inducted in Tuesday’s expansion, has also been made Minister of State in this crucial ministry.
As Law Minister, Prasad replaces D.V. Sadananda Gowda who has been moved to the low-profile Statistics and Programme Implementation ministry.
Among other cabinet changes, Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh from Haryana now would swap portfolios with Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar of Madhya Pradesh, who will also hold charge of Panchayati Raj.
According to sources, newly-inducted Anil Madhav Dave will be the new Minister of State for Environment replacing Javadekar.
Vijay Goel will be the new Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Sports and Youth Affairs. The portfolio was being held as additional charge by Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh after incumbent Sarbananda Sonowal resigned after leading the Bharatiya Janata Party to its first-ever election victory in Assam and became Chief Minister.
M.J. Akbar has been appointed Minister of State for External Affairs.
Jayant Sinha, who was junior minister in the finance ministry, now becomes Minister of State for Civil Aviation, while Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha will hold the Communications portfolio too as Minister of State (Independent Charge).
Mahesh Sharma, who was earlier Minister of State for Civil Aviation under Ashok Gajapati Raju, has been left with his independent charge of Culture & Tourism, while Minister of State for External Affairs, Gen. V.K. Singh (retd) has been divested of the additional charge as Minister of State for Development of Northeastern Region.
S.S. Ahluwalia will be the new Minister of State for Agriculture and Parliamentary Affairs.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Modi ministry was expanded with the induction of 19 new faces, elevating Minister of State for Environment Javadekar to the cabinet and dropping five junior ministers.
All the 19 new ministers sworn in at a solemn function at Rashtrapati Bhavan are from the BJP barring Republican Party of India-A leader Ramdas Athawale of Maharashtra, who has been made Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment and Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel of Uttar Pradesh, who will now be the new Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare.
The five Ministers of State who have been dropped are Sanwar Lal Jat (Water Resources), Nihalchand (Panchayati Raj), Ram Shankar Katheria (HRD), Mansukh Bhai Vasava (Tribal Affairs) and Mohanbhai Kundaria (Agriculture).