After winning the Lok Sabha elections 2019 and being sworn in today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making headlines again for his choice of cabinet ministers. 58 ministers received a phone call from PM Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, inviting them to their homes for a discussion in the days leading up to the swearing-in ceremony.
When put under the scanner, Modi’s new cabinet is mostly made up of Hindu men, one Muslim man, and two women.
There are 14 fresh faces in Modi’s cabinet: Amit Shah, Rattan Lal Kataria, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, RCP Singh, G Kishan Reddy, Suresh Angadi, Kailash Choudhary, Pralhad Joshi, Som Parkash, Rameshwar Teli, Subrat Pathak, Deboshree Choudhury, and Rita Bahuguna Joshi.
Notable retainers of their positions as union cabinet ministers are former transport minister Nitin Gadkari, former defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, former textiles minister Smriti Irani, and former Home minister Rajnath Singh.
Sadananda Gowda, former statistics minister, Piyush Goyal, former railways and coal minister, and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, former minority affairs minister, also took their oaths as union ministers.
Former ministers of: consumer affairs Ram Vilas Paswan, of rural affairs Narendra Singh Tomar, of information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad, and minister of food processing Harsimrat Badal, also took oaths as union ministers.
Former minister of science and technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan, former minister of human resource development Prakash Javadekar, former minister of petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan,
Shandilya Giriraj Singh, previously minister of state (Bihar) for micro, small and medium enterprises, and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, former minister of state (Rajasthan) for agriculture and farmer’s welfare, took their oaths as a union ministers.
Former Foreign Secretary of India Dr. S Jaishankar, who did not win a Lok Sabha seat, and former CM of Uttarakhand Dr. RP Nishank have also been inducted into the cabinet.
Notably, both former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and former finance minister Arun Jaitley have been left off the cabinet roster due to health reasons. Jaitley tweeted a letter he wrote to Modi where he requested the PM not to slate him as a cabinet minister due to his ailing health.
Maneka Gandhi who served as women and child development, Jayant Sinha who was minister of state for civil aviation, JP Nadda, former minister of health and family welfare, and Rajyavardhan Rathore who is a Olympian and served as minister of state (Rajasthan) for information and broadcasting have not been invited back to Modi’s cabinet.
JP Nadda is, however, most likely to succeed Amit Shah as the BJP chief.
The government has not yet released the portfolios of the respective union ministers. However, reports say that either Amit Shah or Piyush Goyal are likely to be tapped for finance minister.
Modi swears in as Prime Minister for second term
On May 30 at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Narendra Modi was sworn in as India’s prime minister for the five-year-term between 2019 and 2024. This is his second term as leader of the right-wing NDA coalition and prime minister of the country.
This year, Modi chose to invite the BIMSTEC countries over SAARC. BIMSTEC—Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation—countries include Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, annd Bhutan.
Notably, Modi favoured BIMSTEC over SAARC because the former does not include Pakistan.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi explained Modi’s decision from his perspective, according to Money Control. He said, “His (Prime Minister Modi’s) entire focus (during the election campaign) was on Pakistan bashing. It was unwise to expect that he can get rid of this narrative (soon)… India’s internal politics did not permit him to extend an invitation”.
A spokesperson for the government also told the Economic Times that Modi is choosing to focus on his ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. He also invited Kyrgyzstan, chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation that includes China and Russia.
BJP’s landslide victory in Lok Sabha elections 2019
After a month packed with the seven phases of voting, the NDA has won a massive 300+ seats in the Lok Sabha elections 2019. It is currently holding steady at 341 seats overall. The BJP crossed its 2014 tally as well and increased its seat share from 272 to 303.
The Congress only marginally increased its seats from 44 to 51. Post election results, the Congress Working Committee met in Delhi to make necessary changes to its strategy.
What to expect from Modi 2.0
Even before taking his oath, Modi has reportedly started planning for his second term as the country’s top executive. Instead of focusing on his first 100 days as prime minister, Modi has decided to chalk out a 1000-day plan including welfare schemes and technological advancements.
Officials working on this three-year-plan told the Hindustan Times, “We have been directed to chalk out agenda for the first 1,000 days and the new ministers and department heads will have to frame a comprehensive strategy to meet these objectives by 2022.”
The government plans to encourage the growth of tech start ups and software products and increase employment and participation in IT fields and research and development, respectively.
The NDA also wants to launch Chandrayaan 2, India’s first manned space mission, and focus on increasing farmers’ income through schemes and money transfers. BJP has also promised to boost national security, digitise land records, complete Aadhar, and strengthen the nation’s healthcare systems.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius