Modi makes major Cabinet changes for new term | Daily News

Modi makes major Cabinet changes for new term

Newly sworn-in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures towards Indian President Ram Nath Kovind after taking the oath of office as India's Prime Minister at the President House in New Delhi on Thursday. -  AFP
Newly sworn-in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures towards Indian President Ram Nath Kovind after taking the oath of office as India's Prime Minister at the President House in New Delhi on Thursday. - AFP

INDIA: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday named his trusted aide Amit Shah to the key Home Affairs Ministry as part of a major cabinet shakeup for his second term in office.

Nirmala Sitharaman moved from Defence to become Finance Minister in a second shock, while career diplomat S. Jaishankar became Foreign Minister.

The induction of Jaishankar, a China expert, as the new Foreign Minister was seen as a sign that Modi will put more emphasis on tricky diplomacy with neighbouring countries in his second term.

Jaishankar, who was the top Foreign Ministry official until his retirement last year, was an influential advisor to Modi on diplomacy during his first five years in power.

Twenty four Cabinet rank ministers and more than 30 Deputy Ministers were sworn in at the Presidential palace on Thursday.Earlier, Modi launched his historic second term at a solemn ceremony in front of cheering supporters ahead of unveiling a revamped Bharatiya Janata Party government.

Presidents and Prime Ministers from neighbouring Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives were present. Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made history by increasing their majority in a second straight landslide election win.

The 68-year-old Prime Minister walked up to take his oath of office to a standing ovation, with supporters in the crowd chanting “Modi, Modi”. “Honoured to serve India!” he said on Twitter soon after.

The Indian leader is expected to host China's President Xi Jinping for a summit in October.

Modi won the election after portraying himself through the campaign as a nationalist strongman who would protect the country's security.

Modi said he needed a new term to further his promise of a “new India” taking its place as a rising economic power in the world.

Smriti Irani, who pulled off one of the biggest victories of the election by beating opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi in his own family bastion, was expected to get a promotion.

Gandhi, whose party suffered a second straight humiliating defeat, was among the crowd with his mother Sonia, the former Congress leader. India is expected to overtake Britain as the world's fifth-biggest economy in 2020.

“Nationalism is our inspiration ... good governance is our mantra,” Modi said at the launch of the manifesto that also vowed to spend more than $1.4 trillion on new infrastructure over five years to create much-needed jobs.

While India's economy grew at about seven percent each year during Modi's first five-year term, it did not produce the jobs needed to find work for the estimated 1.2 million job seekers entering the labour market each month. - AFP


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