Sitharaman gets defence, Goyal railways

New Delhi: Nirmala Sitharaman was appointed the defence minister and Piyush Goyal the railway minister on Sunday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi revamped his team, bringing in nine new faces and changing some major portfolios.
Sitharaman and Goyal too took oath after being promoted to cabinet rank along with Dharmendra Pradhan and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Sitharaman will be the second woman Defence Minister after Indira Gandhi, who held the ministry for a short while when she was Prime Minister.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley earlier held the defence portfolio as additional charge after Manohar Parrikar moved to Goa as chief minister in March.
Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan was also allocated skill development ministry that was held by Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who resigned a few days ago. Six ministers had resigned to make way for the new faces and sources said they were largely pink-slipped over performance.
Transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari emerged as a major gainer in the reshuffle with the addition of important portfolios of water resources and Modi’s pet project of cleaning the Ganga, which was held by Uma Bharti. She was shifted to the relatively low-profile ministry of drinking water and sanitation.
Prabhu, who had offered to quit after a string of train derailments but was told by the PM to wait, replaced Sitharaman as the minister of commerce and industry.
Textile minister Smriti Irani retained the information and broadcasting ministry that was given to her as an additional charge after Venkaiah Naidu became the vice president of India.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore replaced Vijay Goel in the Sports Ministry. Mr Goel, who earlier held independent charge, will be the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Statistics and Programme Implementation.
Another major gainer in the exercise was science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan, who retained the dual charge of the ministry of environment, forest and climate change.

Of the new ministers in Modi’s team, ex-diplomat Hardeep Puri will be minster of state with independent charge for housing and urban affairs. Former home secretary RK Singh will have independent charge of power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and KJ Alphons of Tourism. He will also be minster of state for Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah met the new ministers this morning at the Prime Minister’s residence. Modi reportedly told them to perform and “do a good job.” His council of ministers will now have 76 ministers, up from 73. It can have a maximum 81 members.
Modi later left for China to attend the BRICS summit. He will leave for Myanmar from there on September 5 evening and return to New Delhi on September 7.

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