President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday administered the oath of office and secrecy to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 57 other ministers at an event held at Rashtrapati Bhavan as Modi formed his government for the second term.
In all, 24 cabinet ministers, 9 ministers of state with independent charge and 24 ministers of state took oath of office apart from Modi.
The ceremony was held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan forecourt and attended by around 8,000 prominent persons from various walks of life besides leaders from neighbouring countries, barring Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who had not been extended an invite to the event.
The ministers who retained their positions in the Union cabinet include Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal, Prakash Javadekar, Smriti Irani, Dharmendra Pradhan, Dr Harshvardhan and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi from the BJP, besides Ram Vilas Paswan (Lok Janashakti Party ) and Harsimrat Kaur Badal (Shiromani Akali Dal).
BJP president Amit Shah and former Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar are the new prominent entrants into the Modi cabinet.
In a major surprise, Sushma Swaraj, one of the senior-most leaders of the BJP, was among seven ministers of the previous Council of Ministers to be dropped.
The 67-year-old Swaraj who has held key positions in the party and its governments since decades, was conspicuous by her absence in the new cabinet.
Also missing in the new Council of Ministers were Suresh Prabhu, Maneka Gandhi, J.P. Nadda, Radha Mohan Singh, Mahesh Sharma, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Gen V.K. Singh and Jayant Sinha.
Sushma Swaraj, who was External Affairs Minister during the previous term of Modi government, did not contest the Lok Sabha elections this time, declaring that her health did not permit her to enter the fray and campaign.
Prabhu, who held the key portfolios of Railways and then Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, also did not find a place in the new Council of Ministers.
Nadda, who was the Health Minister in the previous term, was also absent from the list of ministers this time. However, there is speculation that he could be made the BJP president to succeed Amit Shah who has been included in the Cabinet.
Jayant Sinha, MoS Finance in the previous government, is the son of former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who has been extremely critical of Modi.
One of the BJP’s major allies, Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal United (JD-U), chose not to be a part of the government. The party said it did not like the BJP’s offer.
Another NDA ally, Apna Dal, was also excluded from Thursday’s induction.
According to sources, Apna Dal leaders were sure that Anupriya Patel would not only be included in the government but would also be elevated to, at least, minister of state with independent charge. In the previous Modi government, Patel was Minister of State for Health.