Slim government, multiple portfolios

New Delhi : In allocation of portfolios, a formal announcement on which was made on Tuesday, Narendra Modi has given dual responsibility to nine of the 23 Cabinet ministers, irrespective of synergy among the ministries. Half a dozen ministers of state with independent charges will also double up in assisting the Cabinet ministers.

Then there is the youngest Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani, who at 38 will handle the job all alone, unlike in the past when at least two MoS were asked to assist the Cabinet ministers in view of the heavy work involved.

In the Manmohan Singh government, only Jitendra Singh from Rajasthan held independent charge of sports and youth affairs and also doubled up as MoS for defence, but there are now six such MoS while the remaining four with independent charge have more than one responsibility.

Dr Jitendra Singh (57), a diabetologist from Jammu who trounced Ghulam Nabi Azad, is one such MoS who has been picked up by Modi to help him in the Prime Minister’s Office. But despite his onerous responsibility, he also has the independent charge of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences which S Jaipal Reddy held in the UPA-II government.

Modi has kept for himself the ministry of personnel and the department of atomic energy and space.

BJP President Rajnath Singh, as expected, is the Home Minister, and MoS Kiren Rijiju (43) from Arunachal Pradesh is his MoS.

Arun Jaitley gets finance, corporate affairs plus defence, while Nirmala Sitharaman (59) has independent charge of commerce and industry as MoS.

Inderjit Singh Rao (63) will help Jaitley in defence. Rao, an MP from Gurgaon (Haryana), defected from Congress on the eve of the election: he was MoS for defence in UPA-I government, too. He will also hold independent charge of Planning and Statistics and Programme Implementation.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (62) also has the Overseas Indian Affairs portfolio; assisting her will be former army chief General V K Singh (63), who will also hold independent charge of North Eastern Region Development.

Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari has got the integrated road transport and shipping ministry and assisting him will be Krishan Pal as MoS.

His rival in Maharashtra politics, Gopinath Munde, has been given rural development, panchayati raj as also drinking water and sanitation.

Another former BJP President M Venkaiah Naidu (65) holds four portfolios. He is the Parliamentary Affairs Minister as also minister for urban development, housing and urban poverty alleviation. Assisting him in Parliamentary Affairs will be Santosh Kumar Gangwar and Prakash Javadekar, both of whom are also holding independent charges.

Besides holding independent charge of Textiles Ministry, Gangwar (65) will be assisting yet another cabinet minister Uma Bharti in Water Resources, River Development and Ganga rejuvenation.

BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar is the MoS with independent charge of Information and Broadcasting Ministry as also Environment, Forest and Climate Change ministry.

Another BJP spokesman, Ravi Shankar Prasad (59), has been allocated communications and information technology plus law and justice, the two ministries having no synergy. There will be no one to help him as MoS in the dual job.

BJP treasurer Piyush Goyal (49) is MoS with independent charge of not one or two but three ministries of power, coal and new and renewable energy.

The Railways portfolio has gone to former Karnataka chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda. Assisting him as MoS will be Manoj Sinha.

Dr Najma Heptulla (74), the only Muslim face in the ministry, has been given the light work of minority affairs and so have been Maneka Gandhi (women and child development), Kalraj Mishra (micro, small and medium enterprises) and Harsimrat Kaur Badal (food processing industries).

Civil Aviation ministry has gone to Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati with G M Siddeswara as his MoS while Anant Geete gets Heavy industries and Public Enterprises, and former Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Narendra Singh Tomar gets mines, steel plus labour and employment, with Chhattisgarh’s Vishnudeo Sai as his MoS.

Delhi BJP chief Dr Harsh Vardhan is the new health minister while national general secretary Thawar Chand Gehlot from MP is social justice and empowerment minister; Radha Mohan Singh the agriculture minister; Ananth Kumar chemicals and fertilizers; Ramvilas Paswan consumer affairs, food and public distribution; and Jual Oram Tribal Affairs minister, with Gujarat MP Mansukhbhai Vasava as his MoS.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal