Narenda Modi with expanded cabinet
INDIA’S prime minister Narendra Modi brought 19 new junior ministers into the government on Tuesday (5), saying it would strengthen his cabinet’s ability to deliver on promises made in the budget.
It was the second time the prime minister has rejigged his cabinet since taking power in 2014, although Tuesday’s announcements saw no changes made to key portfolios, such as finance, defence, foreign and home affairs.
“Congrats to newly sworn-in colleagues. Let’s work together to bring a positive difference & for #TransformingIndia,” Modi tweeted.
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar was promoted to cabinet rank and 19 new ministers took their oaths at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, while five junior ministers were dropped. The portfolios of the new ministers were not immediately announced.
With the expansion, the size of Modi’s cabinet has swelled to 78 – one of the biggest in years and a far cry from Modi’s 2014 election promise of “minimum government and maximum governance”.
A number of new ministers hail from India’s backward castes, members of which are widely expected to play a critical role in an election in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh next year.
That state election is likely to have a bearing on Modi’s bid to retain power in a general election that has to be taken by 2019.
Modi said he wants a strong ministerial team in place ahead of parliament’s monsoon session starting July 18 to prioritise budget promises.
They include a pledge to double the incomes of India’s debt-laden farmers hit by two weak monsoons and high inflation over five years.
“An expansion of the council of ministers will reflect the priorities and the focus that were outlined in the union budget. Those will be strengthened,” he told The Indian Express newspaper in comments published on Tuesday.