India's PM Modi makes major cabinet changes for second term

Narendra Modi names BJP president Amit Shah for the powerful home ministry while Nirmala Sitharaman gets finance.

    Modi has named his trusted aide Amit Shah to the key home affairs ministry as part of a major cabinet shakeup [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]
    Modi has named his trusted aide Amit Shah to the key home affairs ministry as part of a major cabinet shakeup [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has named his new cabinet, handing the powerful home affairs portfolio to the president of his Hindu nationalist party credited with delivering him thunderous re-election.

    Amit Shah, Modi's trusted aide and chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will handle the home ministry, India's Press Information Bureau said on Friday.

    Shah masterminded the BJP's landslide victory in the April-May general elections, in which the party won 303 of the 542 seats in the lower house of parliament.

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    Shah will now have to pursue Modi's nationalist agenda on security, immigration and other key national issues. 

    Major changes

    Facing major challenges with the economy, job creation and a farm debt crisis, Modi replaced around three dozen ministers and deputy minister from the last administration, bringing in many new MPs.

    Modi was sworn in for a second term as prime minister on Thursday, along with 24 cabinet rank ministers and more than 30 deputy ministers.

    The prime minister will also oversee the departments of atomic energy and space and "all important policy issues", the press statement said.

    Modi also named Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, a former foreign affairs secretary, as India's new foreign minister. He will take over from BJP veteran Sushma Swaraj, who stepped aside due to poor health.

    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.

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    Nirmala Sitharaman, previously the country's defence minister, has been appointed the new finance minister. 

    Sitharaman will take over finance ministry at a time when there is pressure from industries for the government to provide some stimulus to halt a worrying slowdown in Asia's third-largest economy.

    The previous finance minister, Arun Jaitley, had written to Modi asking not to be considered for a ministerial position due to ill health.

    Former home minister Rajnath Singh has been given the defence portfolio.

    SOURCE: News agencies