Continuity is the cornerstone of the newly formed Union council of ministers headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with no changes in not just the top four ministries, but also several others, from the outgoing National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, in the portfolios announced on Monday. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which leads the NDA coalition government has retained most key portfolios, although there are five cabinet ministers from the coalition partners.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairs the first meeting of his new Cabinet in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)

There is no change in the big four ministries: Rajnath Singh continues in defence; Amit Shah in home; Nirmala Sitharaman in finance; and S Jaishankar in external affairs. This also means is no change in the composition of the cabinet committee on security (CCS), a crucial body headed by the PM that has the mandate for making appointments for national security bodies and taking decisions on issues of national security and defence expenditure.

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Some of the key changes were necessitated by the need to accommodate party chief JP Nadda — he has been given the portfolio of health and family welfare in addition to chemicals and fertilisers — and former chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan (agriculture and rural development) and Manohar Lal Khattar (power and housing and urban affairs), who were replaced in Madhya Pradesh and Haryana respectively. Nadda was the health minister in 2014 as well.

Other changes were necessitated by the need to replace ministers who lost the election, or were dropped from the cabinet, and the need to accommodate allies.

Rajya Sabha MP Ashwini Vaishnaw has retained railways and ministry of electronics and information technology but has also been given charge of the ministry of information and broadcasting, which was previously handled by Anurag Thakur who did not find a place in the council of ministers despite winning his seat. Jyotiraditya Scindia, who won from Guna, has been given charge of telecommunications and development of the North East Region; he was handling civil aviation in the second Modi government, but that has been allocated to an ally. And Annpurna Devi, the MP from Koderma, has been given charge of the ministry of women and child development, a portfolio that was handled by Smriti Irani, who lost the election from Amethi.

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To be sure, there were a few changes of portfolios across ministers fortunate enough to retain their position in the council of ministers.

L Murugan who contested the Lok Sabha polls from Tamil Nadu unsuccessfully has been given charge as MoS Information and broadcasting and parliamentary affairs.

Fresh faces who have been inducted include Bandi Sanjay Kumar who has the charge of MoS home affairs; Jitin Prasada who has the charge of commerce and industry and MeITY; V Somanna MoS Jal Shakti and Railways and Suresh Gopi the lone Lok Sabha MP from Kerala who is the MoS for ministry of petroleum, natural gas and tourism. Ravneet Singh Bittu who switched sides from the Congress has been given charge of food processing and railways while George Kurien has the charge of minority affairs.

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has been moved from the ministry of Jal Shakti to culture and tourism; he has been replaced by CR Patil, who is also the president of the BJP’s Gujarat unit. Mansukh Mandaviya has moved from health and family welfare to labour and employment and youth affairs and sports. G Kishan Reddy has been given charge of coal and mines. And Kiren Rijiju, who won from Arunachal West, has been made minister of parliamentary affairs and minority affairs.

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Among the allies, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has been given civil aviation and rural development; Ram Mohan Naidu with a cabinet rank has been named the civil aviation minister and Chandrashekhar Pemmasani is the minister of state for rural development. Lallan Singh of the Janata Dal (United) is the cabinet minister for Panchayati Raj and fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying; his party colleague Ram Nath Thakur is the MoS for agriculture and farmers welfare. From the Janata Dal (Secular), former Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy is the cabinet minister for heavy industries and steel, while HAM’s Jitan Ram Manjhi, also a former CM has been appointed cabinet minister for micro, small and medium enterprises.

Shiva Sena’s Jadhav Prataprao Ganpatrao has been appointed as MoS (independent charge) Ayush and MoS health and family welfare.

Chirag Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) is the cabinet minister for food processing industries.

Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Jayant Chaudhary is the MoS (independent charge) for skill development and entrepreneurship and MoS Education. Ramdas Athawale of the RPI continues to be the MoS for social justice and empowerment, a portfolio he has retained since 2014. Anupriya Patel, of the Apna Dal (S), is the MoS health, family welfare, chemicals and fertilisers; she had the health portfolio in 2014 too.

But the overwhelming theme of the new council, especially in terms of cabinet portfolios, was continuity.

The allocation of ministries is in line with the Narendra Modi government’s governance model that seeks to continue and expand its policies of social welfare, economic reforms and a muscular foreign , analysts said.

To allow ministers to carry forward initiatives that were started in the previous terms no changes have been made in the ministries of road transport and highways, which remains with Nitin Gadkari; environment, forest and climate change which is retained by Bhupendra Yadav; commerce and industry, helmed by Piyush Goyal and education, retained by Dharmendra Pradhan.

Sarbananda Sonowal has retained the portfolio of ports, shipping and waterways, while Virendra Kumar has retained social justice and Jual Oram continues to be the minister for tribal welfare. Hardeep Puri has also retained petroleum and natural gas.

Even among the minister of state (independent charge), there is continuity. Jitendra Singh has retained the post of MoS (IC) looking after the PMO, department of space, and science and technology; and Arjun Ram Meghwal continues to hold charge of law and justice and parliamentary affairs.

There are 36 ministers of state including Pabitra Margherita, a Rajya Sabha MP and political secretary of Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma who has been appointed as the MoS MEA along with Kirtivardhan Singh. Fresh faces who have been inducted include Bandi Sanjay Kumar who has the charge of MoS home affairs; Jitin Prasada who has the charge of commerce and industry and MeITY; V Somanna MoS Jal Shakti and Railways and filmstar Suresh Gopi the BJP’s lone Lok Sabha MP from Kerala who is the MoS for Culture.

In a post on X, defence minister Singh said, “I express my heartfelt gratitude to PM Shri @narendramodi for his continued trust and confidence in me. I shall continue to serve our motherland as India’s Defence Minister.”

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“Safeguarding India’s border will remain our topmost priority and we shall continue protecting India’s integrity & sovereignty. Under the visionary leadership of PM Modi we shall rededicate ourselves to strengthen ‘Make in India’ and take defence manufacturing & exports to greater heights,” he said.

In a post on X, Shah said: “Gratitude to PM Shri @narendramodiJi for reposing trust and reassigning me the roles of Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Cooperation.”

Speaking about his role in the home ministry, Shah said, “In Modi 3.0, the MHA will continue to accelerate and strengthen security initiatives and introduce new approaches to realize PM Modi’s vision of a secure Bharat.”

Similarly, Jaishankar said: “Deeply honored to be appointed as the Minister of External Affairs in PM @narendramodi’s Government. Welcome colleagues MoS @KVSinghMPGonda & MoS @PmargheritaBJP to the Ministry. #TeamMEA has worked over the last decade on a people-centric foreign policy. Our commitment to Bharat First and Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam will facilitate the making of a Vishwabandhu Bharat.”

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