Modi signals continuity in portfolio allocation, reposes trust in old team

Published - June 10, 2024 10:21 pm IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who now needs the support of allies to lead the latest edition of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, sent out a message of continuity by retaining his top lieutenants in key Ministries while allocating portfolios to his council of ministers.

The four big Ministries that are part of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), a key body within the Union Cabinet, saw the return of all the Ministers: Amit Shah retained home, Rajnath Singh with Defence, Nirmala Sitharaman remains Finance Minister and S. Jaishankar as External Affairs Minister.

Key infrastructure ministries also remained largely unchanged, with Nitin Gadkari retaining Road Transport and Highways, Sarbanad Sonowal retaining Shipping and Ports and Ashwani Vaishnaw keeping Railways, along with Information and Broadcasting and Information Technology.

Jyotiraditya Scindia seems to have got a leg up by securing the Telecom Ministry, a key infrastructure unit. Only aviation saw a change, and was given to Ram Mohan Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), a portfolio that had been with his party in the first Modi government, when Ashok Gajapati Raju held the Ministry.

Former Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar got the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, on the day when Prime Minister Modi’s first Cabinet meeting with his new team cleared a proposal for building three crore houses in urban and rural areas under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY).

Former Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been given the crucial Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, a reflection of the fact that under his tenure as CM, wheat production, especially the famous “sharbati” wheat, had broken all records. Virender Kumar has been retained with the social justice portfolio.

Arunachal Pradesh MP Kiren Rijiju has been made the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs as he is seen to be affable and sharing a good rapport across the political spectrum. Rijiju, being a Buddhist, has been made in charge of the Minority Affairs as well, where his deputy would be Ravneet Singh Bittu, made Minister of State despite losing his Lok Sabha seat, a signal to the Sikh community, whose relation with the government has been of concern.

Even with allies, allocations have followed a pattern of continuity, with Rajiv Ranjan Singh of the JD(U) holding the portfolio of Panchayati Raj, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, earlier held by BJP’s Giriraj Singh. H D Kumaraswamy, of the Janata Dal (S) has got the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Steel, a portfolio that was previously held by the Shiv Sena before they parted ways with the BJP.

Former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi is now the Minister for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSME). Chirag Paswan has been given the Food Processing Ministry which was earlier held by his father, the late Ram Vilas Paswan.

Among Ministers from the BJP’s stable, C. R. Paatil got the Ministry of Jal Shakti, a flagship Ministry of the government. Dharmendra Pradhan retained Education Ministry, Arjun Ram Meghwal retained Law Ministry while Pralhad Joshi has been moved to Food, Civil Supplies and Renewable Energy.

PMO should be people’s office, not Modi’s, PM tells officials

Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally re-assumed office for a third term on June 10 and addressed officials at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in South Block, giving out a message that his office should be the “people’s PMO and cannot be Modi’s PMO”.

“Ten years ago, the image in our country was that the PMO is a power centre, a very big power centre and I was not born for power. I do not think of acquiring power. For me, it is neither my wish nor my path that the PMO should become a power centre. The steps we have taken since 2014, we have tried to develop it as a catalytic agent,” he said.

“Our aim is to keep generating new energy from here that provides new light to the whole system...PMO should be people’s PMO and it cannot be Modi’s PMO,” he added.

The Prime Minister said he is dedicated to the welfare of 140 crore citizens. “Together we have just one goal – Nation First; just one intention – 2047 Viksit Bharat. I have said this publically, mera pal pal desh ke naam hai [Every minute of mine is dedicated to the nation]. I have also promised the country – 24X7 for 2047. I have such expectations from the team... fulfilling the task on time is a good thing, not complete, I still want to look for value addition...if we work with this aim, I am fully aware that we can fulfil our dreams and aspirations,” he said.

“We are not the people for whom office starts at this time and ends at this time...we are not bound by time, we have no limits to our thinking.... Those who are beyond this are my team and the country trusts that team,” he added.

Prem Singh Tamang sworn in as Sikkim Chief Minister for second consecutive term

Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) supremo Prem Singh Tamang on June 10 took oath as the Chief Minister of the Himalayan state for the second consecutive term.

The 56-year-old politician was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Lakshman Prasad Acharya at a function held in Paljor Stadium in Gangtok.

Along with the Chief Minister, 11 other Ministers were sworn in, including Sonam Lama, Arun Kumar Upreti, Samdup Lepcha, Bhim Hang Limboo, Bhoj Raj Rai, G T Dhungel, Puran Kumar Gurung, Pintso Namgyal Lepcha, Nar Bahadur Dahal, Raju Basnet and Tshering Thendup Bhutia.

The Council of Ministers in Sikkim can have a maximum strength of 12 including the CM.

While three Ministers — Arun Kumar Upreti, Nar Bahadur Dahal and Raju Basnet — took oath in Nepali, eight other Ministers took oath in English.

Only four Ministers of the previous government have been retained this time.

The Chief Minister has rewarded two SKM MLAs Bhoj Raj Rai and Raju Basnet with ministerial berths for defeating SDF supremo and former chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling in Poklok-Kamrang and Namcheybung assembly constituencies respectively.

Tamang also included Nar Bahadur Dahal, a first-time MLA from Khamdong-Singtam, in the Cabinet for defeating Mani Kumar Sharma, who revolted in the previous term.

Women, however, failed to get representation in the Tamang Cabinet despite four women getting elected on SKM tickets, including the CM’s wife Krishna Kumari Rai.

Suspected militants ambush Manipur CM N. Biren Singh’s advance security convoy

An advance security team of Manipur Police that had gone to Jiribam to prepare for the visit of Manipur CM N. Biren Singh came under attack by unidentified armed miscreants.

Two policemen, including the driver of the vehicle were injured. Biren Singh is expected to visit the violence-hit town on June 11.

Multiple gunshots were fired at the vehicles of the security forces, who retaliated, police said, adding that the shootout is still on near Kotlen village along a stretch of National Highway-53.

Two police outposts, a forest beat office and at least 70 houses were torched in Jiribam by suspected militants on June 8.

Denied Cabinet berths, Shinde and Ajit camps strike discordant notes

Barely 24 hours after the swearing-in of the NDA’s new Council of Ministers under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, discordant notes were sounded on June 10 by the BJP’s Mahayuti allies — the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and the Ajit Pawar-led NCP — whose leaders expressed disappointment at their parties not getting Cabinet berths while accusing the BJP of being ‘partial’ towards other NDA constituents.

Shiv Sena leader Shrirang Barne, Lok Sabha member from Maval in Pune, who retained his seat in this election, said his party, despite winning seven of the 15 seats it contested, ought to have been given a Cabinet Ministership along with a Minister of State (MoS) position.

Both the Sena and the NCP were given an MoS (independent charge) post by the BJP. While the Shinde Sena accepted it, with Buldhana MP Prataprao Jadhav sworn-in on Sunday, Ajit Pawar turned down the offer, saying he would not settle for anything less than a Cabinet berth and was willing to wait till the next Cabinet reshuffle.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) had a field day with the discomfiture within the Mahayuti, with Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut mocking Mr. Shinde’s Sena by saying: “The BJP has put this false Shiv Sena in its place. This is what you get when you decide to be someone’s slaves. Ajit Pawar’s NCP has not even got anything.”

Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in Vijay Wadettiwar said if the Pawar-led NCP does not accept the MoS post, it ought to forget about getting any Cabinet berth in the future.

Suvendu Adhikari moves Calcutta HC over post-poll violence

Amidst incidents of electoral violence continuing in West Bengal, almost ten days after the last elections, Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari on June 10 moved the Calcutta High Court on the issue of post-poll violence.

A Division Bench presided by Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and comprising Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya said the court would take up the petition for hearing on June 12.

Last week, a single judge Bench of Justice Kaushik Chanda expressed concern over post-poll violence and issued a directive allowing affected people to submit complaints by email to the State’s Director General of Police. The court had also directed the DGP to file a report in 10 days as to the number of complaints received and the steps taken thereon.

Supporters of the BJP and, at certain places, Left parties have been at the receiving end of violence.

Meanwhile, a Trinamool Congress worker was shot dead at Hariharpara in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district. Family members of the deceased, Sanatan Ghosh, claimed that the killing was related to a land-related tussle with some persons in the locality.

Another Trinamool leader was attacked at Deganga under Barasat Lok Sabha during a victory march of the party. Four supporters of the Indian Secular Front were arrested in connection with the violence.

In Brief:

The 42nd Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate court remanded rape-accused former JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna to 14 days of judicial custody on June 10, as his SIT custody ended on June 9. The SIT did not seek further custody of Prajwal, but intended to seek his custody in other cases pending against him.

Evening Wrap will return tomorrow.

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