As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet were sworn in today by President Ram Nath Kovind, several high-profile ministers from the previous government were left out of the line-up.
Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who said he had faced “some serious health challenges” in the last 18 months, had written to PM Modi that he will “not be part of any responsibility, for the present, in the new government”. Mr Jaitley, a lawyer-turned politician, has always been among the BJP’s chief troubleshooters. In the past five years, he has steered major economic legislation and has also defended controversial policies for the government. PM Modi had given Mr Jaitley charge of three ministries when he first took office in 2014 — finance, defence and information and broadcasting. The 66-year-old’s health issues became worse after he had a kidney transplant in May last year. A diabetic, Arun Jaitley also had to skip the interim budget in February when he was in hospital in the US for treatment.
Sushma Swaraj, who was External Affairs minister in the previous government, was seen taking a seat in the audience at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oath ceremony today, an indication that the veteran leader will sit out of a BJP government for the first time. The 67-year-old was one of the most popular ministers on social media and was acknowledged for her quick response to SOS and calls for assistance on Twitter. Even banal or joking requests drew a response from Sushma Swaraj.
Olympian Rajyavardhan Rathore is one of the most prominent exclusions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which has a mix of old and new faces. The 49-year-old did not receive the crucial phone-call that was all the confirmation that anyone needed on whether they had made it. Later, he was seen sitting in the audience rather than with the ministerial picks waiting to take oath after PM Modi. Rajyavardhan Rathore, a former Colonel in the army, is a BJP parliamentarian from Rajasthan who won a second term.
Maneka Gandhi will be the pro-tem or interim Speaker of the Lok Sabha instead of minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government. The 62-year-old BJP leader has been a minister in four governments and was Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development in the last cabinet. As pro-tem Speaker, she will administer the oath of office to the newly elected Lok Sabha MPs and also preside over the first meeting of the Lok Sabha, in which the Speaker will be elected.
Jayant Sinha, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation in the previous government, did not get a cabinet berth this time. When he first took office in 2014, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Delhi) and Harvard Business School alumnus had been given charge as Minister of State in the Finance Ministry. Then, three years ago, he was transferred to the aviation ministry. Jayant Sinha’s father Yashwant Sinha is a former BJP leader who has lately been a vocal critic of the party’s policies. The 56-year-old was elected to the Lok Sabha for the second time from Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh.
Jagat Prakash Nadda, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, is also among the ministers who did not make it to the union cabinet this time. A Rajya Sabha member from Himachal Pradesh, he has also been a minister in the Himachal Pradesh government.