India PM adds 21 ministers to 45-seat council

21 members join PM's cabinet in move seen to alleviate burden off finance minister, who also held defense portfolio.

    India PM adds 21 ministers to 45-seat council
    Indian PM's new appointment is expected to relief ministers burdened with more than one portfolio [EPA]

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inducted twenty-one new ministers, driving the number of members in his council of minister to 66, 27 of whom are holding Cabinet ranks.

    The new ministers took the oath of office on Sunday at a brief ceremony at the presidential palace in New Delhi, but the portfolios of the new ministers and the reshuffle of the ministries held by other Cabinet and council members were not announced immediately.

    According to leaked tips, Manohar Parrikar, who resigned Saturday as the chief minister of the state of Goa in western India, is among the new Cabinet ministers.

    Other newcomers to the council of ministers include Rajyavardhan Rathore, an Olympic silver medalist turned politician, and Babul Supriyo, a playback singer in Indian films who is a first-time lawmaker from West Bengal state.

    The new round of appointments is expected to free Finance Minister Arun Jaitley from the defence portfolio, along with other cabinet members joggling two or more baskets. 

    Economic focus

    Modi, who took office in May after sweeping to power with a massive mandate in elections, has been pushing an economic growth agenda that has begun to show results.

    For the first time, GDP growth increased to 5.7 percent in the first quarter, after two years of economic slowdown that saw growth remain under 5 percent. Modi has promised to get growth back up to the 8 percent it averaged for a decade up to 2012.

    Although Modi had promised during the election campaign that if elected he would head a lean government, political analysts said the expansion became necessary because ministers were overburdened, slowing Modi's economic reform
    agenda.

    With Parliament due to resume later this month, a strong ministerial team could enable Modi to push through key legislation, said Neerja Choudhury, a political analyst.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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