Published On: Sun, Sep 3rd, 2017

Sitharaman is Defence minister, first after Indira to hold responsibility

New Delhi: Nirmala Sitharaman was on Sunday named India’s Defence Minister in a reshuffle-cum-expansion of his ministry carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that also saw Piyush Goyal take charge of Indian Railways.

She is only the second woman to hold the post since former prime minister Indira Gandhi

She is only the second woman to hold the post since former prime minister Indira Gandhi.

Sitharaman is one of four ministers elevated to cabinet rank on Sunday. She attributed her promotion to “cosmic grace”.
“Somebody who has come from a small town, grown into the party with all the support of the leadership, and if given such responsibility, it just makes you feel sometimes that cosmic grace is there. Otherwise it is impossible,” she told reporters here after taking oath.

Of the other two new Cabinet ministers, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan got additional charge of Skill Development Entrepreneurship while Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi retained the Minority Affairs Ministry.

The three new Ministers of State with independent charge are RK Singh (Power, New and Renewable Energy), Hardeep Puri (Housing and Urban Affairs) and KJ Alphons (Tourism, Electronics and IT).

The six new Ministers of State are Shiv Pratap Shukla (Finance), Ashwini Choubey (Health and Family Welfare), Virendra Kumar (Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs), Anantkumar Hegde (Skill Development and Entrepreneurship), Gajendra Singh Shekhawat (Agriculture and Farmers Welfare) and Satya Pal Singh (Human Resource Development, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation).

Suresh Prabhu, who lost his Railway portfolio, has been shifted within the Cabinet to the Commerce and Industry Ministry, earlier held by Sitharaman.

Nitin Gadkari, who was holding Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, will also head the Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry.

Cabinet minister Uma Bharti, who lost the Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, is now left with Drinking Water and Sanitation.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday hailed appointment of Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as the country’s first, full-fledged Defence Minister, saying it sends “a message globally”.

“It is great for the country, not just for the women. it also sends a message globally,” said Jaitley, who had held charge of Defence after Manohar Parrikar left the post to become Goa Chief Minister earlier this year.

Noting that the Cabinet Committee on Security would now have two women ministers, with Sitharaman joining External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, he said: “Both ladies in CCS have established their competence, both are recognised as ladies with substance, who have earned a front-line position for themselves.”

Asked if women in combat maybe a reality with a woman as Defence Minister, Jaitley quipped: “That was one area in which I wasn’t able to do much.”





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