Prime Minister Narendra Modi will expand his Council of Ministers for the third time, and probably for the last time before the country votes for a new Lok Sabha in 2019. As a part of the restructuring, six incumbent ministers have resigned so that they remain free to take on other responsibilities.
Making a careful choice in the talent pool available among his colleagues, the prime minister chose the new ministers with a clear mandate to deliver on his vision of a New India.
Given the task at hand, all the new ministers are likely to be strategically placed in key ministries, especially focusing on last mile delivery directly to the people. The new ministers come from varied walks of life, bringing in their unique professional perspective and proficiency to the Council of Ministers. Many of them also bring rich administrative and governance experience.
The new batch of ministers is highly qualified, with a number of them having professional as well as doctorate degrees. They come from diverse social and economic backgrounds, as well as from across the country — stretching from Uttar Pradesh to Kerala and Karnataka; and Rajasthan to Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.
However, the deadlock between the BJP and the JD(U) could not be broken as the party headed by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar sought one cabinet berth and one minister of state while the BJP only agreed to give two junior minister berths. With the internal strife in the party far from resolved, it is unlikely that AIADMK will make into the Union Council of Ministers.
Shiv Pratap Shukla
Shiv Pratap Shukla is a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh and a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development. A law graduate with an LLB from Gorakhpur University, Shukla started off early in politics as a student leader in the 1970s. He served as a Cabinet minister in the Uttar Pradesh government for eight years, and is known for his work in rural development, education and prison reform during his tenure. He was also elected as a Member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly for four consecutive times in 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1996.
During the Emergency, he was imprisoned for 19 months under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA).
Ashwini Kumar Choubey
A Lok Sabha MP from Buxar in Bihar, Ashwini Kumar Choubey is member of the Parliamentary Committee on Estimates and Standing Committee on Energy. He is also a member of Central Silk Board. He has been elected for five consecutive terms to the Bihar Legislative Assembly. He has held important portfolios including health, urban development and public health engineering as a Cabinet minister of the Government of Bihar for eight years.
Choubey started early in politics as the president of the Studen’s Union of Patna University, he was an active part of the Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) movement in the 1970s. He graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology. He was taken into custody during the Emergency under MISA.
He is also credited to have raised the slogan “Ghar – Ghar me ho Shouchalaya ka nirman, Tabhi hoga Ladli Bitiya ka Kanyadaan”, and has helped construct 11,000 toilets for Mahadalit families. He is also known to have an interest in yoga.
Having faced the disastrous Kedarnath floods with his family in 2013, Choubey authored a book Kedarnath Trasadi on the tragedy as well.
Virendra Kumar is a Lok Sabha MP from Tikamgah, Madhya Pradesh. He has had a distinguished career in public service as a six-term Lok Sabha MP. Kumar is the chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour, and has been chairman of the Joint Committee on Office of Profit and a member of National Social Security Board.
During his multiple stints in Parliament, Virendra Kumar has amongst others been a member of the Parliamentary Committees on Labour and Welfare, Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Privileges, Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Kumar had actively participated in the JP movement of the 1970s, and went to jail for 16 months under MISA during the Emergency. He had initiated a movement for solving the problems faced by students and opened a library for their assistance.
Coming from the Scheduled Caste community, Kumar has dedicated his life to its service. He has been active in engaging the youth in removing the barriers of caste and class, and works for building orphanages, schools for persons with disability and old age homes. Kumar has an MA in Economics and a PhD in Child Labour.
Anantkumar Hegde is a Lok Sabha MP from Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka. He is a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs and Human Resource Development. Having been elected as an MP for the first time at the age of 28 years, Hedge is now a fifth term Lok Sabha MP.
During his multiple stints in the Parliament, he has been a member of multiple Parliamentary Standing Committees including the likes of finance, home affairs, human resource development, commerce, agriculture and external affairs. Hegde has also been a member of the Spices Board of India for four terms.
Known to have a deep focus on rural India, Hegde is the founder president of Kadamba, an NGO working in the field of rural development, rural health, SHGs, rural marketing and other rural welfare programmes. Additionally, he is also a Tae-kwon-do practitioner, a Korean martial Art.
Raj Kumar Singh
Raj Kumar Singh is a Lok Sabha MP from Arrah, Bihar. He is a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committees on Health and Family Welfare, Personnel, Pensions and Public Grievances and Law & Justice. Raj Kumar Singh is also a former IAS officer of the 1975 batch, Bihar cadre. He rose up the ranks to become the Home Secretary of India.
Singh has served in multiple roles of responsibility including Defence Production Secretary and Joint Secretary Home; as well as heading home, industries, public works and agriculture among other departments in the Bihar government. He is known for his contributions to schemes for police and prison modernization, and laying down a framework for disaster management.
Rearding his educational background, Raj Kumar Singh studied English Literature at St Stephens College, New Delhi, and got a Bachelors Degree in Law thereafter. He also went on to study at the RVB Delft University in Netherlands.
Hardeep Singh Puri
Hardeep Puri is a decorated former IFS officer of the 1974 batch, known for his experience and expertise in foreign policy and national security. Puri is the President and Chairman of Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) think tank, and he was also the vice-president of International Peace Institute, New York.
Puri’s four-decade career in diplomacy spans the multilateral arena, included critical roles of ambassador and permanent representative of India to the United Nations, ambassador to Brazil and the United Kingdom and permanent representative of India to Geneva. As the head of the Indian delegation to the UN Security Council, Hardeep Puri had served as Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN as well as the president of the United Nations Security Council.
An alumnus of The Hindu College, Delhi University, Puri was a student leader and active during the JP movement. He briefly taught at St Stephens College before joining the IFS.
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is a Lok Sabha MP from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. He is a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on finance and chairperson of the fellowship committee. A technology-savvy, progressive farmer; Shekhawat is one of the most followed political leaders on Quora globally.
Besides his popularity on social media, he is also a sports enthusiast, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has participated at National and All India Inter University level in basketball. He currently is a Member of the All India Council of Sports and the President of Basketball India Players Association.
He has an MPhil & MA in Philosophy from Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur.