17th Lok Sabha Has Highest Number of Women MPs, But Modi 2.0 Has Only Six Women
Nirmala Sitharaman, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Smriti Irani, Niranjan Jyoti, Renuka Singh and Debashree Chaudhuri were sworn in as part of PM Narendra Modi's new cabinet on Thursday evening.
Nirmala Sitharaman being sworn in as a Cabinet minister in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)
New Delhi: Although the newly elected 17th Lok Sabha has the highest number of women MPs, the Narenda Modi 2.0 government has included only six women ministers in the government. Of these six, only three are ministers of Cabinet rank — Nirmala Sitharaman, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Smriti Irani.
The other women ministers include Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Renuka Singh Saruta and Debashree Chaudhuri.
When the BJP came to power in 2014, the government had 10 women ministers. Six of them — Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharti, Najma Heptullah, Maneka Gandhi, Harsimrat Kaur and Irani — were ministers of Cabinet rank. Heptullah, who served as the minister of minority affairs, was dropped after a reshuffle in July 2016.
Two women ministers, including Gandhi, who was the Minister of Women and Child Development, and Bharti, Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation, were not included in the new Cabinet.
It's important to note that the 17th Lok Sabha has the highest representation of women at 14.3%, which includes as many as 78 women MPs, higher than 62 in 2014. A total of 716 women candidates had contested the Lok Sabha elections this year, out of which 78 won the elections in the results declared on May 23.
Sitharaman, who was the first woman MP to take oath as Cabinet minister, had in September 2017 become the second woman after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to hold the defence portfolio. She is likely to continue as the minister of defence in the second term as well. A two-time member of the Rajya Sabha since 2016, Sitharaman's journey includes many stops. Before formally joining the BJP in 2008, she worked as an assistant to an economist in the Agricultural Engineers Association in the United Kingdom, a senior manager in the R&D department of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and even had a brief stint at the BBC World Service.
Irnai, a former minister of textiles, also took oath and is back in the cabinet. In the last five years, Irani was given the plum post of human resource development minister and later served as the minister for information and broadcasting. In the Lok Sabha elections, the 43-year-old emerged as a giant-killer, pulling off one of the biggest victories by dethroning Rahul Gandhi in the Congress's home turf of Amethi.
Harsimrat Kaur from the Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP’s alliance partner in Punjab, has also been retained in the cabinet. She was allotted the portfolio of the Union Minister of Food Processing Industries in 2014.
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