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Key changes in Modi 2.0 cabinet, Shah named Home Minister

NEW DELHI, May 31, 2019

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday named his trusted aide Amit Shah, the chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to the key home affairs ministry as part of a major cabinet shakeup for his second term in office.
 
Regarded as the architect of Modi's landslide victory in the recently concluded general election, Shah replaces senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh, who will now be defence minister.
 
In this powerful post, Shah will be responsible for internal security with a control over the federal police. He will now pursue Modi's nationalist agenda in internal security, immigration and other key national issues, said local media reports.
 
Besides Shah and Singh, the cabinet boasts senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari continuing in his earlier portfolio of Minister of Road Transport and Highwaysand at least one surprise pick, former foreign secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
 
Nirmala Sitharaman moved from defence to become finance minister in a second shock, while career diplomat S. Jaishankar became India's new external affairs minister. 
 
Former finance minister Arun Jaitley opted out of this government due to ill health, said media reports. 
 
Jaishankar, a former foreign affairs secretary, will take over from Sushma Swaraj, the ruling party's veteran leader and the previous most senior woman in the cabinet. She has also stepped aside due to poor health.
 
This is the first time that a diplomat has been appointed as India's foreign minister.
 
Jaishankar is widely considered a tough negotiator and is credited with diffusing tensions with China in 2017 over the Doklam plateau, a border standoff that lasted several weeks.
 
He also played a major role in brokering the historic India-US nuclear deal during the prime ministership of Manmohan Singh. 
 
In fact, Singh, who attended the swearing-in ceremony, was one of the fist people to congratulate him as he stepped off the stage after taking the oath.
 
"It shows that the prime minister is serious about foreign policy, and secondly, that he is entrusting it in the hands of a professional," Lalit Mansingh, a former foreign secretary, told Reuters.
 
Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the Nehru-Gandhi family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, was made the Minister of Women and Child Development and was also given the charge of Ministry of Textiles, which she headed in the previous Modi government.
 
“Congratulations to @AmitShah ji who transformed BJP into one of the largest political organisations in the world and will now play a bigger role in building #NewIndia,” tweeted Irani lauding Shah as she took over the new post.
 
The list of other cabinet ministers includes:
 
DV Sadananda Gowda - Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers
 
Ramvilas Paswan - Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
 
Narendra Singh Tomar - Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare; Minister of Rural Development; and Minister of Panchayati Raj
 
Ravi Shankar Prasad - Minister of Law and Justice; Minister of Communications; and Minister of Electronics and Information Technology
 
Harsimrat Kaur Badal - Minister of Food Processing Industries
 
Thaawar Chand Gehlot - Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
 
Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' - Minister of Human Resource Development
 
Arjun Munda - Minister of Tribal Affairs
 
Harsh Vardhan - Minister of Health and Family Welfare; Minister of Science and Technology; and Minister of Earth Sciences
 
Prakash Javadekar - Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; and Minister of Information and Broadcasting
 
Piyush Goyal - Minister of Railways; and Minister of Commerce and Industry
 
Dharmendra Pradhan - Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas; and Minister of Steel
 
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi - Minister of Minority Affairs
 
Pralhad Joshi - Minister of Parliamentary Affairs; Minister of Coal; and Minister of Mines
 
Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey - Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
 
Arvind Ganpat Sawant - Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise
 
Giriraj Singh - Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries
 
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat - Minister of Jal Shakti.
 
Key cabinet decisions
 
A day after taking oath, the new cabinet met on Friday and approved the extension of the PM-KISAN scheme to all 14.5 crore farmers across the country. The first meeting was held at the Prime Minister's Office in South Block. 
 
The extension will cost Rs 87,000 crore a year. A pension scheme worth Rs 10,000 crore, which will benefit five crore farmers, was also announced. 
 
Announcing the two key decisions, Agriculture Minister Tomar said the Modi 2.0 government has announced the landmark decisions for the farming community in its very first Cabinet meeting.
 
"The Union Cabinet has approved to extend the ambit of the scheme by including all land holding eligible farmer families under the scheme, subject to the prevalent exclusion criteria," he said after the meeting.
 
The government also approved a new scheme, which assures a minimum monthly pension of Rs 3,000 to all shopkeepers, retail traders and self-employed persons after attaining the age of 60. The decision is expected to benefit more than three crore retail traders and shopkeepers.
 
Terming the decisions taken by the Cabinet as path-breaking, PM Modi said farmers and traders would benefit greatly from them. "The decisions will enhance dignity and empowerment of several Indians.PM Modi People first, people always," Modi said in a tweet.
 
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that five crore traders are expected to join the scheme in the next three years.
 
"All shopkeepers and self employed persons as well as retail traders with GST turnover below Rs 1.5 crore and aged between 18-40 years can enrol for the scheme," an official statement said.
 



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