As Prime Minister Narendra Modi effected the first reshuffle in his Council of Ministers since he assumed the charge for a second term, in what is being tipped to be a “major shake-up” of the government, four key ministries remained untouched.
Even as President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the resignations of 12 ministers including some big surprises like Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is in the midst of a heated row with Twitter over its compliance and defiance of the new IT rules, Dr Harsh Vardhan, who is spearheading India’s fight against the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, and Education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, among others, there seemed to be no change made in the biggest, most coveted portfolios.
Home Minister Amit Shah, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar have been retained. Their names were not part of the list of resignations sent to the President’s office – a sign that Modi’s core team is still intact despite vehement charges and accusations from the Opposition.
There is buzz, however, that the juniors ministers in these departments may be shuffled.
PM Modi on Wednesday brought in Sarbananda Sonowal, Narayan Rane and Jyotiraditya Scindia as Cabinet ministers while dropping as many as 12 ministers including. As many as 15 Cabinet ministers, including some new faces, were sworn in at the swearing-in ceremony held in the Darbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan. While 13 members took oath in Hindi, two took in English.
It is the first Cabinet reshuffle since Modi returned to power for a second term in 2019.
The reshuffle comes months after the defeat of the BJP in the April elections in key West Bengal.
The party will face another major test of PM Modi’s popularity in legislative elections in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand in February and March next year, which may prove to be a bellwether for his party’s fate in the 2024 national elections.