India's PM Modi makes major cabinet changes for second term

2019-06-01 12:05
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hands with Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth. (Prakash Singh, AFP)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hands with Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth. (Prakash Singh, AFP)

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has named his new cabinet, handing the powerful home affairs portfolio to the president of his Hindu nationalist party credited with delivering him a thunderous re-election.

Amit Shah, Modi's trusted aide and president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will handle the home ministry, India's press information bureau said on Friday.

Shah masterminded the BJP's landslide victory in the April-May general elections, in which the party won 303 of the 542 seats in the lower house of parliament.

Shah will now have to pursue Modi's nationalist agenda in security, immigration and other key national issues. 

Major changes

Facing major challenges with the economy, job creation and a farm debt crisis, Modi replaced around three dozen ministers and deputy minister from the last administration, bringing in many new legislators.

Modi was sworn in for a second term as prime minister on Thursday, along with 24 cabinet rank ministers and more than 30 deputy ministers.

The Indian prime minister will also oversee the departments of atomic energy and space, and "all important policy issues", the press statement said.

Modi also named Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, a former foreign affairs secretary, as India's new foreign minister. He will take over from BJP veteran Sushma Swaraj, who stepped aside due to poor health.

The induction of Jaishankar, a China expert, as the new foreign minister was seen as a sign that Modi will put more emphasis on tricky diplomacy with neighbouring countries in his second term.

Nirmala Sitharaman, previously the country's defence minister, has been appointed the next finance minister. 

Sitharaman will take over finance ministry at a time when there is pressure from industry for the government to provide some stimulus to halt a worrying slowdown in Asia's third largest economy.

The previous finance minister, Arun Jaitley, had written to Modi asking not to be considered for a ministerial position due to ill health.

Former home minister Rajnath Singh has been given the defence portfolio.

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Read more on:    narendra modi  |  india
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