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Cabinet reshuffle: Budget, focus, and priorities

However, the top four Ministries — Home, Finance, Defence, and External Affairs — did not see any change. The ceremony began with Minister of State (Independent charge) Prakash Javadekar’s elevation to Cabinet rank.

Republican Party of India (RPI) leader Ramdas Athawale and Apna Dal lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh, Anupriya Patel, are the only ones not belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The five Ministers of State to be dropped are: Sanwar Lal Jat (Water Resources), Nihalchand (Panchayati Raj), Ram Shankar Katheria (Human Resources), Mansukh Bhai Vasava (Tribal Affairs), and Mohanbhai Kundaria (Agriculture). Their resignations were accepted by President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday.

  With the induction of the nineteen new Ministers and dropping five ministers, the strength of the Prime Minster’s Council of Ministers, including himself, now stands at 78. In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the new Ministers: “Congrats to newly sworn-in colleagues. Lets work together to bring a positive difference & for #TransformingIndia.”

The new Ministers also made their comments. Minister of state from Maharashtra, Subhash Bhamre announced that his priority will be welfare of farmers,women empowerment, and employment generation for youth. Narendra Singh Tomar assured that the Council of Ministers is a “team for the PM. The new team with its new members will prove its mettle”.

 Ramdas Athawale (RS MP, Maharashtra), declared his “Proud aim to fulfil B.R.Ambedkar’s dream of upliftment of Dalits  and poor.” Krishna Raj (MP, Shahjahanpur, UP) said, “Government has given me such a big responsibility, will try to fulfill it”. CR Choudhary (MP from Nagaur, Rajasthan) and MN Pandey (MP from Chandauli) also said that they will the fulfill the responsibility invested in them.

Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj explained her absence from the oath-taking ceremony through a tweet:“I am unable to attend the swearing in ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan since I have a meeting with Foreign Minister of Hungary.”

 The Shiv Sena has, however, decided to boycott PM Modi’s Cabinet Expansion and stayed out from the oath ceremony. Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said the BJP central did not have any discussion with him on the Union Cabinet expansion and that his party will not stand on anybody’s doors seeking favours.

Ahead of the expansion, Modi was quoted saying that the expansion of his ministry will reflect “budget, focus and priorities” . Taking a swipe at PM Narendra Modi, Congress on Monday said the much-talked about reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers would hardly make any difference as it is a “one-man government”, party spokesman Jairam Ramesh told reporters.

 As per sources, the expansion comes after exhaustive vetting and selection process to find the best talent. People were assessed based on the value they will bring to the Union Council of Minister. This marks a firm departure from the usual routine of frequent changes based on caste, religion and other time serving political considerations and is a firm endorsement of developmental politics that the Prime Minister champions. 

The selection was based on the new ministers’ professional expertise, experiences in both Centre and states  along with keeping the youth factor in mind.

The Prime Minister, who had reviewed the performance of various Ministries indicating a reshuffle, had last expanded his Cabinet in November 2014, when the Council of Ministers was expanded by adding four Cabinet Ministers, three Ministers of State (Independent Charge), and 14 Ministers of State, increasing the total size of the ministry from 45 to 66 ministers.

According to the Constitution, the total number of Ministers in the Council of Ministers must not exceed 15 percent of the total number of members of the Lok Sabha i.e. 82.
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