Jitendra Singh allocated 2 new portfolios in cabinet reshuffle
New Delhi, July 08: Jitendra Singh was on Wednesday allocated two new portfolios -- the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Earth Sciences --with independent charge after a Union cabinet reshuffle.
Singh''s predecessor Harsh Vardhan, who held the two portfolios, resigned on Wednesday.
Besides, these two portfolios, Singh is also a Minister of State in the Prime Minister''s Office and the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
He is also the Minister of State in the Department of Atomic Energy, and the Department of Space.
Mansukh Mandaviya and Anurag Thakur will be the new ministers for Health and Information and Broadcasting respectively replacing Harsh Vardhan and Prakash Javedekar who were among the 12 dropped in a major revamp of the Union Cabinet on Wednesday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who also brought in Sarbananda Sonowal, Narayan Rane and Jyotiraditya Scindia and 33 other new members.
High profile IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was also dropped as the prime minister attempted an image makeover of his 26-month-old government facing grim challenges due to the COVID pandemic and a faltering economy by carrying out the first expansion and reshuffle of his ministry after retaining power in May 2019. Seven junior ministers who included Thakur were elevated to the Cabinet rank.
While Ashwini Vaishnaw, a new inductee, got the crucial portfolios of Communications and Electonics and Information technology besides Railways, Kiren Rijiju, who was promoted as Cabinet minister, gets charge of Law and Justice. Vaishnaw, a Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha, is a former IAS officer of the 1994 batch, and he also has an MBA from Wharton School, Pennysylvania University and MTech from IIT Kanpur.
The Cabinet overhaul that came ahead of key Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh next year saw Scindia, a former Congress leader who joined the BJP in 2020, getting Civil Aviation, a portfolio held by his late father Madhavrao Scindia who died in a plane crash in 2001.
Among the 36 new faces, eight are lawyers, four are doctors, two are former IAS officers and four MBA degree holders, besides several engineers, making it an eclectic mix of professionals in what is seen as an attempt by the prime minister to give a boost to the governance quotient ahead of a string of assembly elections and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Besides 15 Cabinet ministers, 28 Ministers of State, comprising new faces and those elevated, were sworn in at a ceremony held in the Darbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 43 ministers including the seven elevated to the Cabinet with all COVID protocol in place.
Hours before the ceremony, 11 ministers resigned while another minister Thaawarchand Gehlot quit on Monday after being made the Governor of Karnataka. The resignations of all the 12 ministers were accepted by President Kovind.
The total strength of the Council of Ministers now stands at 78, including the Prime Minister. The prime minister can have up to 81 members in his Union Council(15 per cent of the Lok Sabha strength).