Indian prime minister reshuffles cabinet

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/9/3 14:05:55

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday rejigged his Cabinet, inducting nine new faces, reshuffling few others and dropping six non-performers.

All the nine new ministers were administered the oath of office by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan, his official residence.

But there has been no change in the top three slots, with Rajnath Singh retaining the Home Ministry, Arun Jaitley the Finance Ministry and Sushma Swaraj the External Affairs Ministry.

Jaitley, who held the additional charge of the Defense Ministry, however, shed the military portfolio, making way for a new woman Defense Minister -- Nirmala Sitharaman.

In fact, Sitharaman, 58, became only the second woman in the country to hold the post of defense minister after Indira Gandhi, the country's first woman prime minister. She earlier held the Commerce Ministry.

Another major change was implemented in the crucial Railway Ministry, which operates one of the world's largest train networks, ferrying over 12 million passengers daily.

Power Minister Piyush Goyal became the new Rail Minister, taking over from Suresh Prabhu who had last week offered to resign in the wake of two back-to-back rail accidents.

Prabhu, who exited as Railway Minister, became the new Commerce Minister, the Ministry that was held by Sitharaman.

Among the new ministers are a former police chief of Mumbai, Satya Pal Singh, retired career diplomat Hardeep Puri and two former bureaucrats, one of who was a former Home Secretary.

Earlier in the morning, Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah met the new ministers at the Prime Minister's residence and told them to "do a good job."

Last week, at least six non-performing ministers resigned from the cabinet. The council of ministers will now have 76 ministers, up from 73. It can have a maximum 81 members.

This is said to be the last major cabinet reshuffle before the general elections in 2019. 

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