New Delhi: Narendra Modi took oath of the office of prime minister for the second time on Thursday and trimmed his council of ministers from 76 to 58, inducting BJP chief Amit Shah in the Union Cabinet and dropping key ministers like Sushma Swaraj, Maneka Gandhi, Suresh Prabhu and Radha Mohan Singh.
Arun Jaitley, finance minister in the previous government and part of the Cabinet Committee on Security, had on Wednesday opted out of the government citing health reasons.
Shah won his first Lok Sabha polls from Ahmedabad by a handsome margin, and in the last one week he has accompanied the Prime Minister on all the important visits — from thanksgiving rally in Gujarat to prayers organised at Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi.
Shah’s oath after Modi and Rajnath Singh delineates the pecking order in the Union cabinet. Shah was administered oath ahead of former BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
Among the surprise picks in the cabinet was former foreign secretary S Jaishankar, who has worked closely with the PMO during his stint in the Foreign Office in Modi's first term.
Other prominent omissions in the council of ministers include former Olympian Rajyavardhan Rathore, woman and child development minister Maneka Gandhi, commerce minister Suresh Prabhu, culture minister Mahesh Sharma, tribal affairs minister Jual Oram and civil aviation minister Jayant Sinha.
Health minister JP Nadda, whose name did not figure in the list of new council of ministers, however, is being seen as a possible replacement for Shah as party president.
The Prime Minister, however, retained all other key second-generation BJP leaders who worked with him in the first term, including Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar.
Smriti Irani who defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Gajendra Shekhawat who defeated Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot's son Vaibhav got a cabinet call-up again, while Kailash Chaudhry who defeated Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh will make his debut in the government.
Key ally Shiv Sena got a berth in the cabinet so did Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party whose outfit won six seats in Bihar. Shiromani Akali Dal re-nominated Harsimrat Kaur Badal to the union council.
However, Apna Dal MP Anupriya Patel was dropped from the government.
Janata Dal (United) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar decided not to nominate any MP to the council in protest against under-representation to allies. He, however, clarified his party would continue to support the NDA government.
In poll-bound Jharkahnd, former CM Arjun Munda ended his political isolation by securing a cabinet berth. So did former Uttarakhand CM and two-time MP Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank.
Bengal, where the BJP made strong inroads despite a stiff challenge from Mamata Banerjee, got two berths, while Odisha got one.
Tamil Nadu which resisted the Modi wave does not have any representation in the council of ministers.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been retained in the Union Cabinet, the only Muslim face in the Modi government.
Modi, 68, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Nath Kovind at a glittering ceremony at the forecourt of majestic Rashtraparti Bhavan.
"Honoured to serve India!" tweeted Modi after taking the oath for the second consecutive term.
Honoured to serve India! Watch the oath taking ceremony. https://t.co/GW6u0AfmTl— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 30, 2019
Top opposition leaders, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, corporate honchos, film stars, chief ministers and a galaxy of leaders from BIMSTEC countries were part of the nearly 8,000 guests at the ceremony.
There are 24 cabinet ministers and as many Ministers of State while nine others were given MoS with Independent Charge rank.
Modi can have as many as 80 ministers in the 543-member Lok Sabha.
As per the Constitution, the total number of Union ministers, including the Prime Minister, shall not exceed 15 per cent of the number of members in the Lok Sabha.
This is the second time Modi took the oath at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Modi was sworn in by the then president Pranab Mukherjee in 2014 in the presence of over 3,500 guests, including the heads of SAARC countries.
Earlier, Chandra Shekhar in 1990 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 were sworn in at the sprawling forecourt.
Leaders of BIMSTEC countries including President of Bangladesh Abdul Hamid, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, President of Myanmar U Win Myint and Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering also attended the gala event.
From Thailand, its Special Envoy Grisada Boonrach represented the country.
Besides India, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) comprises Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan as members.
Kyrgyz President and current chair of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, and Mauritius PM Pravind Kumar Jugnauth also attended the event.