New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tuesday, expanded his council of ministers by elevating Prakash Javadekar as a cabinet minister and inducting 19 new Ministers of State.
17 of the 19 new ministers are from the BJP, with RPI leader Ramdas Athawale and Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel being the exceptions.
Leading journalist MJ Akbar had joined the BJP ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls and serves as party’s national spokesperson. Along with Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Akbar will be the Muslim face in the Modi cabinet.
Akbar’s entry into the BJP is not the first time he took a detour to politics – he had won Lok Sabha polls in 1989 from Bihar on a Congress(I) ticket. He had also served as then PM Rajiv Gandhi’s official spokesperson.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer PP Chaudhary is the other prominent inclusion in the Modi cabinet. Chaudhary, who is known as an authority in constitutional litigation, is an MP from Pali, Rajasthan.
Hailing from the Maratha community, Dr Subhash Bhamre represents Dhule constituency of Maharashtra in the 16th Lok Sabha. He is a well-known cancer surgeon.
Dr Bhamre was earlier in Shiv Sena while his father had earlier served as a Congress MLA.
Arjun Ram Meghwal
Well-known in Delhi as the ‘cycling MP’, Arjun Ram Meghwal had started a trend when he cycled to Parliament during the ‘odd-even’ days in Delhi.
Meghwal is also a very powerful Dalit leader from Rajasthan and represents Bikaner in the lower house of Parliament.
He is a retired Indian Administrative Service officer and currently the party chief whip in Lok Sabha.
Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, Mansukhbhai Mandavia, is another MP who cycles to work. His entry into the cabinet appears to be part of the Modi-Shah combine’s strategy to retain BJP’s grip on the state.
Dave is also a cycle lover. A Rajya Sabha member from MP, Dave is known for his work in the education sector and has actively campaigned for saving the Narmada river.
The veteran BJP leader from Gujarat is a known Modi confidante. The Patel leader currently represents the state in the Rajya Sabha.
The only BJP MP from the 28 reserved constituencies in South India, Ramesh Jigajinagi represents Bijapur constituency of Karnataka in the Lok Sabha.
Jigajinagi has a strong support base among Dalits in the state, especially in north Karnataka. The five-time MP is expected to provide heft to BJP’s attempt to dislodge the Congress when the state will go to polls in 2018.
Mahendra Nath Pandey
As part of the BJP’s plan to win Uttar Pradesh, Chandauli MP Mahendra Nath Pandey was also inducted in the union council of ministers.
Pandey along with veteran leader Kalraj Mishra will be the Brahmin face from UP in the Modi cabinet.
He is a PhD from Banaras Hindu University and has been very active in PM’s constituency, Varanasi.
BJP MP from Dahod in Gujarat, Jasvantsinh Bhabhor is a well-known Scheduled Tribe leader.
His entry into the cabinet is part of the party’s attempt to eat into the Congress’ support base within the community in the state.
Faggan Singh Kulaste
BJP MP from Mandla in Madhya Pradesh, Faggan Singh Kulaste is a well known tribal leader. He had earlier served in the Vajpayee government as a MoS.
Kulaste had hit the headlines in 2008 when his name figured in the cash-for-votes scandal. However, he was later discharged by the court.
Vijay Goel is a popular BJP leader from Delhi and was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan in 2014.
Goel was also a minister in the Vajpayee government besides holding multiple positions in the party hierarchy.
Daughter of Sone Lal Patel, founder of UP-based party Apna Dal that merged with the BJP earlier in the week, Anupriya Patel represents Mirzapur in the Lok Sabha. Apna Dal has a huge support base mainly among the Kurmi community of the Varanasi-Mirzapur area.
An alumni of Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College, Anupriya was Apna Dal’s most popular leader even when her mother Kishna Patel was the president of the party.
Later in May 2015, Anupriya and six others were expelled by Krishna, for alleged anti-party activities.
Interestingly, Krishna Patel has rejected the suggestion that her party has merged with the BJP. A report quoted her as saying that if Anupriya is inducted into the cabinet then Apna Dal will leave the NDA.
Meanwhile, reports said that the 35-year-old is being seen as a possible chief ministerial face for the UP assembly polls.
Veteran BJP hand SS Ahluwalia ‘s induction is being seen in the context of the upcoming assembly elections in Punjab.
Interestingly, Ahluwalia represents the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal. He won from there mainly on the basis of the support extended by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Ahluwalia had earlier served in the Vajpayee government and has represented Bihar and Jharkhand in the Rajya Sabha. He is also well regarded for his extensive experience in the Parliament.
Rajen Gohain is a multiple-term BJP MP from Nagaon in Assam.
His entry into the Modi cabinet came through after Sarbananda Sonowal shifted to Guwahati as the CM. However, it remains to be seen whether he will be given the sports ministry.
Senior Jat leader CR Chaudhary represents Rajasthan’s Nagaur in the Lok Sabha. His entry into the cabinet is expected to help the BJP assuage the powerful community’s concerns about being properly represented in the state.
Ajay Tamta, the young MP from Kumaon region in Uttarakhand has pipped many senior BJP leaders to secure a seat in the Modi cabinet. A Dalit, Tamta’s entry will strengthen the party as it comes together to defeat the Harish Rawat government in the next assembly polls.
The maverick Dalit politician from Maharashtra, Ramdas Athawale is the president of the Republican Party of India (Athawale), a constituent of the NDA.
Currently a Rajya Sabha MP from the state, Athawale has earlier represented Pandharpur and Mumbai North Central in the Lok Sabha.
Athawale’s inclusion is important given the fact that there is no Shiv Sena MP among the new faces and that the relationship between the BJP and the Shiv Sena remains strained.
Other than Anupriya Patel, Krishan Raj is the only other woman inducted today. A Dalit, she represents Shahjahanpur seat of Uttar Pradesh.
Her inclusion is also part of the BJP’s ‘Mission UP’.
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