A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expanded and reshuffled the Council of Ministers, several new ministers took charge of their assignments, including Mansukh Mandaviya (Health Minister), Ashwini Vaishnaw (Railways and IT Minister), Kiren Rijiju (Law Minister), Anurag Thakur (Information and Broadcasting Minister) and others.
Yesterday’s expansion saw a total of 43 new members taking oath of office, the first such exercise in the NDA government after its return to power in 2019. The Council of Ministers now stands at 77, the highest in this government’s tenure. In the new Council of Ministers, there are four former Chief Ministers in the Cabinet, 18 former state ministers, 39 former MLAs and 23 MPs who have been elected for three or more terms.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, on Thursday announced that his endeavour will be to work with all the media heads as a team and to take forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mission.
Thakur’s remark came soon after he took charge as Information and Broadcasting (I&) Minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new-look Union Cabinet.
In an interaction with senior officials of various media units and Prasar Bharati after taking charge, Thakur said: “My endeavour will be to work will all the media heads as a team.”
Soon after assuming charge of office, the four-time BJP MP from Himachal Pradesh and former Minister of State for Finance, Thakur, said Prime Minister Modi has made strenuous efforts to take the nation forward in the last seven years and that as Minister of I&B it will be his responsibility to take that mission forward.
Thakur also said that he will make all efforts to deliver on the responsibilities placed on him by the Prime Minister and he looked forward to the cooperation of media in his efforts.
“Modiji has taken the nation forward and I will try to match the confidence the Prime Minister has shown in me. Several people have been in charge of this ministry, and I will take forward the work of the government to the people at large.”
Apart from I&B, Thakur, who had been the BCCI chief in the past, has also been allotted the Youth Affairs and Sports portfolio. The I&B portfolio was earlier with Prakash Javadekar, who is out of the Cabinet now.
Thakur will have the challenging job of handling the media interface of the government besides managing its affairs with the media platforms, particularly international and social media.
“I am honoured to serve the people of India as a Union Cabinet Minister and take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Prime Minister Sh @narendramodi ji for entrusting me with this responsibility,” Thakur tweeted.
The Minister was welcomed in his chamber by Amit Khare, Secretary, Ministry of I&B.
Senior Gujarat BJP leader Parshottam Rupala, who has been promoted as a cabinet minister, on Thursday took charge as Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying. Rupala (66), who comes from the influential Kadva Patidar or Patel community in Gujarat, is in charge of the new ministry formed in 2019 in order to promote allied farm activities for enhancing farmers’ income. The minister held a meeting with the department officials immediately after taking charge of the ministry.
Earlier, Rupala was holding the charge as Minister of State for Agriculture in the Union Cabinet. He replaced his cabinet colleague Giriraj Singh, who has been shifted to the Ministry of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
Addressing fodder shortage, high prices of fodder and development of infrastructure to encourage dairy and fishery processing are some of the challenges that the new minister would have to focus on after taking over the charge. Rupala will be assisted by two junior ministers — Sanjeev Kumar Balyan and L Murugan.
Ashwini Vaishnaw takes charge of IT and communications ministry:
Bureaucrat-turned-politician Ashwini Vaishnaw on Thursday took charge of the IT, electronics and communication ministry. This is the first term of Vaishnaw as a Member of Parliament and he will be in charge of the Ministry of Electronics and IT, Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Railways as a Cabinet Minister. “I thank the honourable Prime Minister for the great opportunity he has given me to serve the nation. Telecommunications, IT and Railways. There are lots of synergies in the three and I will be working to ensure that his vision is implemented,” Vaishnaw told reporters after taking the charge.
Vaishnaw replaced senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad in the Meity and Ministry of Communications.
Kiren Rijiju takes charge of Law Ministry:
Kiren Rijiju on Thursday took charge as the new minister of Law and Justice. A prominent face from the northeast in the Modi government, Rijiju was on Wednesday elevated as a Cabinet minister in a major reshuffle and expansion of the Union Council of Ministers. Rijiju takes over the key ministry from Ravi Shankar Prasad, who has resigned from the government.
The Law Ministry is responsible to defend the government in various courts through its law officers and help ministries draft bills and key documents. It also plays a role in transfer, posting and elevation of Supreme Court and high court judges.
Munjapara Mahendrabhai takes charge as MoS WCD:
Munjapara Mahendrabhai, a first-time Lok Sabha MP, took charge as the Minister of State for Women and Child Development on Thursday. Prior to his political career, Mahendrabhai had a three-decade-long distinguished career as a cardiologist and professor of medicine in Gujarat. The 52-year-old is an MD in General Medicine and Therapeutics from Gujarat University. Mahendrabhai is among the 36 new inductees who were sworn in as part of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday. One of the main challenges lying ahead of him is the issue of malnutrition among children and women in the country.
L Murugan takes charge as MoS Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying:
Tamil Nadu BJP president L Murugan on Thursday took charge as the Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying. After taking charge, Murugan said he will work for the welfare of farmers across the country. The minister (44) has not yet been allocated work, as animal husbandry, poultry, dairy and fishery are wide sectors in themselves.
Murugan will work along with Sanjeev Balayan to assist his senior minister Parshottam Rupala in the ministry.
Mansukh Mandaviya took charge as new health minister:
Mandaviya, a BJP leader from Gujarat’s Saurashtra region, replaces Dr Harsh Vardhan, who was dropped from the Council of Ministers on Wednesday.
His portfolio assumes utmost significance as the country is in battling a coronavirus pandemic.
Mandaviya will also lead the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
“Mansukh Mandaviya takes charge as Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare at Nirman Bhawan today (Thursday),” the Health Ministry said.
Mandaviya was on Wednesday elevated to Cabinet rank from minister of state (MoS). He was holding the independent charge of the Shipping Ministry and was MoS for the Chemicals and Fertilizers Ministry.
Ram Chandra Prasad Singh assumes charge as Steel Minister:
Ram Chandra Prasad Singh on Thursday took charge as the country’s new steel minister. He replaced Dharmendra Pradhan, who was allotted the Ministry of Education along with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in the latest Cabinet reshuffle of the Modi 2.0 government. Singh is a Janata Dal-United leader, representing Bihar in the Rajya Sabha. He is a retired IAS officer of the 1984 batch and has served over 25 years across various capacities.
Singh was among those who were administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday.
Two-time MP from New Delhi parliamentary constituency, Meenakshi Lekhi on Thursday took charge as new Minister of State for External Affairs and Minister of State for Culture.
Expressing her gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief J.P. Nadda and the entire team, Lekhi said, “they prioritised meritocracy and hard work and gave positions to everyone”.
Lekhi further praised Prime Minister Modi for giving women leaders big responsibilities in his Cabinet 2.0, saying. “People used to speak of women empowerment, but PM Modi made it possible that the country be led by empowered women. This is praiseworthy,” she said.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar welcomed Lekhi and Rajkumar Singh to the team of Ministry of External Affairs.
Expressing his wishes through his Twitter account, Jaishankar said: “Delighted to welcome @M_Lekhi and @RanjanRajkuma11 to #TeamMEA. Confident that together, we will promote India’s interest abroad effectively. Congratulate all my new ministerial colleagues and look forward to working with them.”