New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla and Minister of State for Heavy Industries G.M. Siddeshwara put in their papers on Tuesday and President Pranab Mukherjee has accepted their resignations.
Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who was Heptulla’s deputy, was promoted and given independent charge of the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
“The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, has accepted the resignation of Najma A. Heptulla and G.M. Siddeshwara,” a Rashtrapati Bhawan communique said.
Minister of State for Urban Development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Babul Supriyo has been relieved of his present charge and given the portfolio held by Siddeshwara.
The resignations and new appointments come a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reshuffled and expanded his Council of Ministers by inducting 19 new ministers and elevating one to cabinet rank.
Heptulla, 76, had to resign on age grounds as BJP had recently fixed maximum age for ministers at 75.
Earlier, in Madhya Pradesh, two senior ministers Babulal Gaur and Sartaj Singh (both above 75) were forced to resign from Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet.
Citing the same criteria, Heptulla was also asked to go, BJP sources said.
Gaur (Home) and Singh (Public Works Department) had tendered their resignations on directive from the Bharatiya Janata Party central leadership. Gaur is 86 years old while Sartaj Singh is 76.
However, Heptulla in a statement said that she has resigned “due to personal reasons”.
“I am extremely thankful to the Prime Minister for giving me the opportunity and honour to be in his Cabinet, where I gained a lot of experience and I have tried to fulfill his expectation towards ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’,” she said.
“I will always be available for any responsibility given to me in future. I have resigned from my post due to personal reasons,” she added.
Siddeshwara was spared and not dropped from the Council of Ministers on July 5 when Modi reshuffled his team as he had requested for more time in view of his birthday which incidently was the same date (July 5).
The five minister who were dropped on July 5 were: Sanwar Lal Jat (Water Resources), Nihalchand (Panchayati Raj), Ram Shankar Katheria (HRD), Mansukh Bhai Vasava (Tribal Affairs), and Mohanbhai Kundaria (Agriculture).