A T E S T N E W S
Rajnath gets Home, Sushma External Affairs, Jaitley Finance
NEW DELHI: BJP heavyweight Rajnath Singh was today appointed Home Minister and another senior party leader Sushma Swaraj the External Affairs minister in the new government in which Arun Jaitley gets Finance Ministry with additional charge of Defence.
A day after being sworn-in as the head of a 45-member coalition government, new Prime Minister Narendra Modi distributed portfolios to his cabinet colleagues in which Nitin Gadkari becomes the Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways in an experiment combining relating ministries.
Expanding the experiment, Modi also brought back Corporate Affairs to Finance headed by Jaitley.
He has also merged Overseas Affairs Ministry with External Affairs and Urban Development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation which has been given to another BJP veteran Venkaiah Naidu.
Significantly, first time MP Jitendra Singh, who was elected on a BJP ticket from Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir, has been made Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office as also of Department of Personnel, which has an administrative control over the CBI.
The Prime Minister will also be the Cabinet Minister of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy Department of Space.
He will also look after "all important policy issues" and all other portfolios not allocated to any Minister, said an official communique of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
List of Council of ministers in Modi Cabinet
The following is the list of council of ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet:
Rajnath Singh: Home Minster
Sushma Swaraj: External Affairs & Overseas Indian Affairs
Arun Jaitley: Finance Corporate Affairs & Defence
M. Venkaiah Naidu: Urban Development Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation & Parliamentary Affairs
Nitin Jairam Gadkari: Road Transport and Highways Shipping
D.V. Sadananda Gowda: Railways
Uma Bharati: Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
Dr. Najma A. Heptulla: Minority Affairs
Gopinathrao Munde: Rural Development, Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water and Sanitation
Ramvilas Paswan: Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
Kalraj Mishra: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
Maneka Gandhi: Women and Child Development
Ananthkumar: Chemicals and Fertilizers
Ravi Shankar Prasad: Communications and Information Technology & Law and Justice
Ashok Gajapathi Raju: Civil Aviation
Anant Geete: Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
Harsimrat Kaur Badal: Food Processing Industries
Narendra Singh Tomar: Mines & Steel Labour and Employment
Jual Oram: Tribal Affairs
Radha Mohan Singh: Agriculture
Thaawar Chand Gehlot: Social Justice and Empowerment
Smriti Zubin Irani: Human Resource Development
Dr. Harsh Vardhan: Health and Family Welfare
Minister of States
General V.K. Singh: Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge) & External Affairs Overseas Indian Affairs
Inderjit Singh Rao: Planning (Independent Charge), Statistics and Programme Implementation (Independent Charge) & Defence
Santosh Kumar Gangwar: Textiles (Independent Charge), Parliamentary Affairs Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
Shripad Yesso Naik: Culture (Independent Charge) & Tourism (Independent Charge)
Dharmendra Pradhan: Petroleum and Natural Gas (Independent Charge)
Sarbananda Sonowal: Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge)
Prakash Javadekar: Information and Broadcasting (Independent Charge), Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge) & Parliamentary Affairs
Piyush Goyal: Power (Independent Charge), Coal (Independent Charge) & New and Renewable Energy (Independent Charge)
Dr. Jitendra Singh: Science and Technology (Independent Charge), Earth Sciences (Independent Charge), Prime Minister Office Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions Department of Atomic Energy Department of Space
Nirmala Sitharaman: Commerce and Industry (Independent Charge), Finance Corporate Affairs
G.M. Siddeshwara: Civil Aviation
Manoj Sinha: Railways
Nihalchand: Chemicals and Fertilizers
Upendra Kushwaha: Rural Development, Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water and Sanitation
Radhakrishnan P: Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
Kiren Rijiju: Home Affairs
Krishan Pal: Road Transport and Highways Shipping
Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan: Agriculture & Food Processing Industries
Mansukhbhai Dhanjibhai Vasava: Tribal Affairs
Raosaheb Dadarao Danve: Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
Vishnu Deo Sai: Mines, Steel & Labour and Employment
Sudarshan Bhagat: Social Justice and Empowerment - PTI
Sushma Swaraj first woman to get MEA portfolio
NEW DELHI: Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday became the first woman External Affairs Minister, in yet another first for the 62-year-old BJP leader.
Apart from having the distinction of becoming the youngest cabinet minister in Haryana government at the age of 25, Ms. Swaraj has also many other firsts such as being the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi and woman spokesperson for any political party in the country.
Ms. Swaraj has also been given the charge of Overseas Indian Affairs.
Ms. Swaraj is assuming the charge of the Foreign Ministry, one of the senior-most offices in the Union Cabinet, at a time when India’s growing international influence gives it a prominent voice in global affairs even as issues in the region keep the largest democracy busy.
Ties with Pakistan and China are some of the perennial challenges for Indian foreign policy practitioners.
Incidentally, the MEA also has a woman Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh.
In 1977, at 25 years of age, Ms. Swaraj became the youngest-ever cabinet minister. She held the education portfolio in Haryana.
In 1979, she became the state president of the BJP in Haryana. She was also the first woman spokesperson for any political party in India and won the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award.
Ms. Swaraj, a law graduate who practised in the Supreme Court, has been elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as a Member of the Legislative Assembly.
She began her political career with RSS student wing ABVP in the 1970s. Member of the Haryana Assembly from 1977 to 1982 from Ambala Cantonment, she was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister in the Devi Lal government.
She was Cabinet Minister for Information and Broadcasting during the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government in 1996.
She resigned from the Cabinet in the next Vajpayee regime to take over as the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi in October 1998. - PTI
Cong takes pot-shots at Modi's choice of ministers
New Delhi: Terming as "lacklustre" Narendra Modi's new Council of Ministers, Congress today took pot-shots at the new government saying its HRD Minister Smriti Irani was "not even a graduate".
Wondering how can someone who has been made in charge of HRD has not even clearly mentioned her educational qualifications, Congress leader Ajay Maken tweeted: "What a Cabinet of Modi? HRD Minister (Looking after Education) Smriti Irani is not even a graduate! Look at her affidavit at ECI site pg 11".
In her affidavit before the Election Commission, Irani has stated her last education as "Bachelor of Commerce Part-1, School of Open Learning (Correspondence), University of Delhi-1994.
Irani's biodata at the Rajya Sabha website states "Educated at Holy Child Auxilium, Delhi and School of Correspondence and Continuing Education, University of Delhi, Delhi." Maken said the 45-member ministry was lacklustre and lacked regional balance as also administrative experience.
He said the ministry can in no way be compared to the UPA-I cabinet which had members like Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, Natwar Singh, Arjun Singh, Shivraj Patil and Sharad Pawar.
Taking a jib at the Prime Minister, Maken wondered as to why he has not been able to appoint a full-fledged Defence Minister.
He recalled that Modi had made defence a key issue during election campaign and made statements critical of China and Pakistan.
Maken claimed that no Cabinet Minister has been inducted from Rajasthan to facilitate induction of Jaswant Singh in the Defence Ministry to checkmate Vasundhara Raje.
Singh has been expelled from the BJP but had recently met BJP veteran L K Advani.
Maken said that there was "regional imbalance" in Modi's ministry as there was "zero representation" from a number of states like Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim and six Union Territories.
He said that Gujarat despite giving 26 MPs to the BJP could only get one MoS berth besides Modi as Prime Minister.- PTI
Need to change confrontation into cooperation: Sharif
Delhi: Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif today pitched for "working together" in his maiden meeting with newly-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said both will have to strive to change confrontation into cooperation.
Sharif, who attended Modi's swearing-in ceremony yesterday, described his meeting as "good and constructive" and said they have agreed that their Foreign Secretaries would be meeting soon to review and carry forward the bilateral agenda in the spirit of today's meeting.
Before his departure for Pakistan, Sharif met the press and read out a statement which said that his government stands ready to discuss all issues between the two countries, in a spirit of cooperation and sincerity.
"We agreed that our meeting in New Delhi, should be a historic opportunity for both our countries. I pointed out that we were at the beginning of our respective tenures, with a clear mandate. This provides us the opportunity of meeting the hopes and aspirations of our peoples that we will succeed in turning a new page in our relations. The one and a half billion people of the two countries want us to focus on their well-being and welfare," he said.
During his 45-minute long meeting, Sharif said he also recalled his invitation to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore in February 1999 and that he "intended to pick up the threads of the Lahore Declaration, from where it had to be left off in October 1999".
"I stressed to Prime Minister Modi that we have a common agenda of development and economic revival, which is not possible to achieve without peace and stability in the region.
I urged that together, we should rid the region of instability and insecurity, that has plagued us for decades.
"Consequently, it was important for us to work together for peace, progress and prosperity. Finally, I urged that we had to strive to change confrontation into cooperation.
Engaging in accusations and counter-accusations would be counter-productive, I emphasised....After all, we owe it to our people to overcome the legacy of mistrust and misgivings," the Pakistan Prime Minister said.
He said they agreed that this common objective could be facilitated by greater people-to-people exchanges, at all levels.
"Prime Minister Modi warmly reciprocated my sentiments and remarked that my visit to New Delhi was seen as a special gesture by the people of India. He stated that it was incumbent on both of us to work together, to achieve our common objectives for peace and development.
"I take leave of this historic city. I do so with a strong sense that the leaderships and the peoples of our two countries share desire and mutual commitment to carry forward our relationship, for the larger good of our peoples," Sharif added. PTI
Arvind Kejriwal furnish bail bond, ends six days drama
Delhi: Backtracking from his defiant stand, former Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today furnished a bail bond before a court here which ordered his "forthwith release" from Tihar Jail where he spent six days in a case of criminal defamation filed by BJP MP Nitin Gadkari.
The drama came to an end after day long activities during which Kejriwal's counsel visited him in Tihar Jail and conveyed to the Delhi High Court that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader has given consent to its suggestion and agreed to file the bail bond.
Kejriwal had earlier refused to furnish a bail bond before the court on the ground that it was against the principles of AAP to furnish bail bond in a case of political nature.
The proceedings, which started before a bench of justices Kailash Gambhir and Sunita Gupta at around 11 am, ended in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha at 5.15 pm when the counsel representing Kejriwal told her that the AAP leader has signed the personal bond and was ready to file it.
"It is also submitted that Arvind Kejriwal has written in his own handwriting that he is filing the personal bond in compliance with the high court order. In view of this, the personal bond furnished is accepted," the magistrate said.
"Let the accused be released forthwith," she said.
During the hearing which began in the jampacked courtroom of high court, the bench advised senior counsel Shanti Bhushan and advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Kejriwal, to ask their client to furnish a bond and later raise whatever legal issues he wants to once he comes out of jail.
The bench thereafter allowed Kejriwal's lawyers to meet and apprise him about the court's suggestion to furnish bail bond which would be subject to final outcome of the legal issues raised by him.
It also advised Kejriwal not to make it a "prestige issue".
To this, Kejriwal's lawyer told the bench that they would like to meet their client in the jail after which the hearing was postponed till 3 pm.
As soon as the hearing resumed, the court queried as to what was Kejriwal's response on the suggestion of the bench.
"He (Kejriwal) has agreed," Prashant Bhushan told the court, adding, he has signed a bond of Rs 10,000 and showed his handwritten note to the bench.-PTI
Modi government constitutes SIT to unearth black money
Delhi: Complying with the Supreme Court directive, the new government on its first day in office today constituted a special investigative team (SIT) headed by a former Supreme Court Judge to unearth black money, including in the case of Hasan Ali.
M B Shah, head of the SIT that also comprises another retired Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat as vice-chairman, will be assisted by the Revenue Secretary, directors of CBI, IB, RAW and ED, the CBDT Chairman and an RBI deputy governor.
The Supreme Court, which appointed the two judges, had last week granted the government one week to set up the SIT.
The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi held its first meeting today in which it named the members of the SIT.
"In the first Cabinet of the new government...in the light of the directions of the SC, we have constituted an SIT for unearthing black money... This was an important issue for us," Law and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters after a one-and-a-half-hour Cabinet meeting.
According to a press release, other members of the SIT are Director General of the Narcotics Control Bureau, Director General of Revenue Intelligence, Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit and a Joint Secretary in the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
"The SIT has been charged with the responsibility and duties of investigation, initiation of proceedings and prosecution in cases of Hasan Ali and other matters involving unaccounted money," it said.
The panel will have jurisdiction in cases where investigations have commenced, are pending, are waiting to be initiated or have been completed.
Prasad said setting up of the SIT "indicates the commitment of the new government to pursue the issue of black money."
Prasad said that earlier, the Supreme Court had given certain orders, but there were some delays.
"Tomorrow is the last date (for setting up of SIT), therefore the very first agenda in accordance with its policy commitment was to have this very high-profile SIT," he said.
The SIT will also prepare a comprehensive action plan, including creation of an institutional structure that could enable the country to fight the battle against unaccounted money.
It should report on the status of its work to the court from time to time, the statement added. PTI