Nirmala Sitharaman is new defence minister, Piyush Goyal gets railways

Nirmala Sitharaman is new defence minister, Piyush Goyal gets railways

The promotion of Naqvi, Pradhan, Sitharaman and Goyal, who were all State Ministers with independent charge, is an endorsement of their good performance, official sources said.

The exercise raised the strength of the Union Council of Ministers from 73 to 76.

Goyal will bring to the ministry his experience at the power ministry, where he has been trying to inculcate fiscal discipline in utilities, ensure sufficient coal availability and drive growth in the clean energy market.

Gadkari retained the charge of Road Transport and Highways, where his work has earned him praise.

Bharti will take care of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

Goyal, a Chartered Accountant by profession, has been articulate in defending the Narendra Modi government specially after the demonetisation decision.

Former Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday said that number of accidents has gone down during the last three years ever since he assumed the office, but a single accident is painful and he took the moral responsibility of it. Six ministers had resigned to make way for new faces.

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Sitharaman's appointment, which made her the second woman to hold the Defence portfolio after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was the obvious highlight but the reshuffle also underlined a deeper political pattern within the BJP.

As the Defence Minister, Sitharaman will be a member of the crucial Cabinet Committee on Security whose members include the Prime Minister, Home Minister, External Affairs Minister and the Finance Minister.

MoS (independent charge) for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was elevated to Cabinet rank. Pradhan was given the additional charge of the Skill Development Ministry, which was earlier held by Rajiv Pratap Rudy who quit the post a few days ago.

As for surprises, the PM inducted two prominent retired bureaucrats, Hardeep Singh Puri and Alphons Kannanthanam, for housing and urban affairs and tourism and information technology respectively. The JD (U) and the Shiv Sena skipped the swearing-in ceremony while Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK attended it.

Odisha is among the states high on the priority list of party chief Amit Shah for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The latest reshuffle confirms the pattern set more than a decade ago, during NDA-I, when the BJP's first-generation leadership, under Vajpayee and Advani, promoted the next set, including Sushma Swaraj, Pramod Mahajan, Venkaiah Naidu, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and Modi.

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