New Delhi: In his first Cabinet expansion since taking oath in May this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inducted 21 news faces on Sunday, wherein former Goa CM Manohar Parrikar, senior BJP leader JP Nadda, former Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu and former Congressman Birender Singh took oath as ministers.
Whereas Parrikar, Nadda, Prabhu and Singh were inducted in the Union Cabinet, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Ram Kripal Yadav, Haribhai Parthibhai Choudhary, Sanwar Lal Jat, Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya, Giriraj Singh, Hansraj Ahir, Ram Shankar Katheria, TDP’s YS Chowdary, Jayant Sinha, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Babul Supriyo, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Vijay Sampla were inducted as Ministers of State.
Bandaru Dattatreya, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Mahesh Sharma took oath as Ministers of State (Independent Charge).
The ceremony was held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The day was not without its share of drama with unresolved issues between Shiv Sena and BJP in Maharashtra stopping Sena MP Anil Desai from taking oath.
It is said that he returned to Mumbai from the airport after arriving in the national capital today morning.
Parrikar is considered close to PM Modi and has been often hailed as a man with administrative acumen and a clean image.
Prabhu was power minister in Vajpayee government. He resigned from Shiv Sena today morning and joined the BJP.
Nadda is a senior BJP leader and Jat leader from Haryana Birender Singh joined BJP ahead of Assembly elections.
Also, Rudy was a minister in the Vajpayee government.
Talking to the media later, Rudy said that ministries had not been allotted to them as yet.
However, the buzz is that Parrikar will be given the important portfolio of Defence. At present Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has the additional charge of defence.
And Prabhu may be given the Railways Ministry which is at present with Sadananda Gowda.
With the Cabinet expansion today the strength of the Union Council of Ministers has gone up from 45 to 66.
Of this, 27 including the PM are of Cabinet rank, 13 Ministers of State with Independent Charge and 26 Ministers of State.
The swearing-in ceremony was attended among others by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson PJ Kurien, PM Modi and his Cabinet colleagues, BJP patriarch LK Advani and the Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states Vasundhara Raje, Raman Singh, Manohar Lal Khattar and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu of TDP.
None from Congress were present in the ceremony.
“Both Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh were invited to the ceremony,” Power Minister Piyush Goyal said after the swearing-in ceremony, as per PTI.
Asked if there was any communication from the Congress on whether they will attend the ceremony or not, Goyal did not give any details.
Earlier, the newly inducted ministers had been called for a breakfast meet with the Prime Minister.
Dattatreya’s inclusion gives representation to the new Telangana state in the Union ministry while first-time MP Mahesh Sharma seems to be a surprise choice as a MoS with Independent Charge.
Yadav was previously in Lalu Prasad’s RJD but had quit the party just before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and had contested on a BJP ticket.
The PM will chair the first meeting of the expanded Cabinet, followed by a meeting of Council of Ministers tomorrow evening, as per sources.
Meanwhile, reports suggested that Parrikar will file for Rajya Sabha election from Uttar Pradesh tomorrow.