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Published 21.09.23, 03:25 PM

Modi has retained his core team from the previous government, apparently intent on playing it as safe as he can at a time of unfamiliar uncertainties for him.

Senior BJP leaders from the earlier government took their oath in the same order as in 2019. After Modi, it was Rajnath Singh, followed by Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari, who has acquired the reputation of being something of an irritant to the top leadership.


The surprise, whatever it was worth, came in the form of J.P. Nadda, whose extended term as party president ends in June, making a return to the government. Nadda, health minister in the first Modi government, was sworn in after Gadkari. His induction implies the BJP will now have a new president.

The BJP dominated the list of 30 cabinet ministers, with 25. The other five were Karnataka ally and JDS leader H.D. Kumaraswamy, young Desam leader Rama Naidu, JDU veteran Rajiv Ranjan aka Lalan Singh, Jitan Ram Manjhi of the Hindustani Awam Morcha, and the biggest winner of the day — Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan.

As Modi, donning a blue half-jacket over his white kurta-pyjama, was sworn in by President Droupadi Murmu on the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday, his gaze would have fallen on two stalwarts seated in the front row of the audience. Telugu Desam Party boss Chandrababu Naidu and JDU chief Nitish Kumar will have a big hand in deciding the stability of Modi’s new government, and both have a history of switching sides to fulfil their personal and regional interests.

Seventy-one ministers — 30 of cabinet rank, 5 junior ministers with independent charge, and 36 junior ministers — took the oath of office, the group’s composition as much a nod to continuity as to the compulsions of coalition. Twelve in all — five cabinet ministers, two MoS (independent charge) and five MoS — were from the allies.


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