Cabinet reshuffle: Diplomat, bureaucrats, ex-police chief among nine new faces in Modi government

Nine new faces, including former diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri, will be inducted into the Union Council of Ministers on Sunday.

Published: 02nd September 2017 09:47 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd September 2017 11:27 PM   |  A+A-

File photos of the new ministers in the Union Cabinet. | Express Photo Service

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Two former bureaucrats, one retired diplomat and an ex-police official are among nine new faces to be inducted into the Council of Ministers tomorrow in a major revamp by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, official sources said tonight.

Ahead of the reshuffle, six ministers resigned.

Three of the BJP MPs being inducted -- Virendra Kumar (63), Anant Kumar Hegde (49) and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat (49) -- are from Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan respectively where Assembly polls are due next year.

Former IAS officer Alphons Kannanthanam (64), who hails from Kerala, is another pick by Modi, a move seen as the BJP's efforts to expand its base in the southern state to take on the ruling Left Democratic Front led by the CPI(M).

The other new faces to be included in the ministry are BJP MPs Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Bihar), Shiv Pratap Shukla (Uttar Pradesh), former Home Secretary Raj Kumar Singh (Bihar), former diplomat Hardeep Puri and ex-Mumbai police chief Satyapal Singh, the sources said.

They will take oath at 10.30 am tomorrow at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

They, however, did not clarify whether any of the new entrants would be given a Cabinet berth. No woman figures in the list.

Puri (65), who was India's permanent representative at the United Nations, and Kannanthanam are not members of Parliament.

The names picked by Modi suggest his vision of striking a balance between merit and demands of real politick.

While he has picked people with proven administrative and professional expertise such as Puri, Satyapal Singh (61), R K Singh (64) and Kannanthanam, he has also chosen the lingayat leader Hegde from Karnataka and farmer leaders Shekhawat and Kumar from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

The lingayat community is one of the dominant communities of Karnataka which has influenced poll outcomes in several Assembly segments.

There are indications that some of the junior ministers including Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan may be elevated to Cabinet rank.

As government sources disclosed the names, a surprise factor was the absence of members of BJP's allies like JD(U) and Shiv Sena from the list.

Though top BJP leaders maintained silence on the development, sources in the party said it was likely due to lack of a formula for representation which could satisfy all allies.

Paving way for the rejig, Union ministers -- Kalraj Mishra, Bandaru Dattatreya, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjiv Kumar Balyan, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahendra Nath Pandey -- had resigned two days ago.

Uma Bharti, too, had offered to resign, but her fate hangs in balance amid speculation that there may be a few more exits.

There was speculation over the likely choice for the post of the defence minister, and names of Suresh Prabhu and Nitin Gadkari were doing the rounds.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is at present holding the additional charge of defence and he has already given an indication of relieving the charge.

While Shukla (65) is a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, Choubey (64) has been elected to the Lok Sabha from Buxar in Bihar.

Virendra Kumar represents the Tikamgah constituency of Madhya Pradesh in the Lok Sabha.

Hegde is a five-time Lok Sabha MP from Uttara Kannada in Karnataka, while Raj Kumar Singh is a first time MP from Arrah in Bihar. Shekhawat represents Jodhpur seat in the Lower House.

Satya Pal Singh is a Lok Sabha MP from Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh and a former Maharashtra-cadre IPS officer of the 1980 batch.

Kannanthanam was known as 'Demolition Man' for having ordered razing of thousands of illegal constructions when he was heading the Delhi Development Authority.

The selection of nine new names for ministership has been done by Modi keeping in view the 4Ps -- passion, proficiency, professional and political acumen, to deliver on his vision of a new India, official sources said.

Committed to his track record of identifying fellow team members on the basis of merit and future potential, the prime minister will place them strategically in key ministries, especially focusing on last mile delivery directly to the people, they said.

The prime minister is committed to his vision of a new India, which will be built on the foundations of development and good governance, to further the cause of the poor, marginalised and the deprived segments of the society, the sources said.

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