Seven women on Monday took oath as ministers in the Narendra Modi government, and one of them, Sushma Swaraj, is set to be a member of the all powerful Cabinet Committee on Security in her capacity as the external affairs minister. Najma Heptulla (74), a Rajya Sabha member since 1980, will be the eldest woman minister while actress-turned-politician Smriti Irani (38) will be the youngest in the cabinet.
Heptulla, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, is also Modi’s lone Muslim face. Uma Bharti, Maneka Gandhi and Shiromani Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal are the other women cabinet ministers. Besides the six cabinet ministers, BJP’s Nirmala Sitharaman has been inducted as minister of state with independent charge. Seetharaman, who is not an MP, has to secure either a Lok Sabha seat or a Rajya Sabha membership within six months to continue in office. Harsimrat Kaur Badal (48), the Akali Dal MP from Bathinda, is the lone woman from an ally to be sworn-in as a cabinet minister. In the outgoing Manmohan Singh government, there were just seven women out of 71 ministers and only two — Girija Vyas and Chandresh Katoch — were in the cabinet.