(IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expanded his council of ministers by elevating Minister of State for Environment Prakash Javadekar in the cabinet and also inducted 19 new Ministers of State.
All new ministers sworn in Tuesday are from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) barring RPI leader Ramdas Athawale and Apna Dal lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh Anupriya Patel.
Besides Javadekar, who was MoS (Independent), all new Ministers of State were sworn in by President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here in the presence of Vice President Hamid Ansari, a galaxy of union ministers, including Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani and Chaudhary Birender Singh and BJP chief Amit Shah.
However, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj skipped the occasion due to a prior diplomatic engagement – a meeting with the visiting Hungarian Foreign Minister.
The new Ministers of State sworn in are Faggan Singh Kulaste, S.S. Ahluwalia, Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi, Vijay Goel, Ramdas Athawale, Rajen Gohain, Anil Madhav Dave, Parshottam Rupala, M.J. Akbar, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Jaswant Sinh Bhabhor
Mahendra Nath Pandey, Ajay Tamta, Krishna Raj, Mansukh Bhai Mandavia, Anupriya Patel, C.R. Chaudhary, P.P. Chaudhary
Subhas Ramrao Bhamre.
According to sources, five Ministers of State were also dropped ahead of the swearing in.
The five ministers dropped are: Sanwar Lal Jat (Water Resources), Nihalchand (Panchayati Raj), Ram Shankar Katheria (HRD), Mansukh Bhai Vasava (Tribal Affairs) and Mohanbhai Kundaria (Agriculture).
With the induction of the 19 and the dropping of the five MoS, the strength of Prime Minster’s Council of Ministers, including himself now stands at 78.
During the swearing in, RPI leader Ramdas Athawale made a minor faux pas when he started reading the conventional oath taking paper without pronouncing his name and was corrected by President Pranab Mukherjee.
Modi had taken over as Prime Minister on May 26, 2014 and had first expanded his ministry in November 2014.