Several Indian ministers quit as Modi readies cabinet reshuffle

india modi-1625656569519
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets BJP MPs ahead of cabinet expansion, at Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi, on Wednesday. Image Credit: ANI

NEW DELHI: India’s health minister, and many other ministers, resigned ahead of a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday, officials said, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to reinvigorate an administration that has been heavily criticised for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan quit, a source close to the minister said, paying the political price for the government’s struggles to cope with a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections.

List of likely ministers who will take oath in a few hours

1. Narayan Tatu Rane

2. Sarbananda Sonowal

3. Virendra Kumar

4. Jyotiraditya M Scindia

5. Ramchandra Prasad Singh

6. Ashwini Vaishnaw

7. Pashu Pati Kumar Paras

8. Kiren Rijiju

9. Raj Kumar Singh

10. Hardeep Singh Puri

11. Mansukh Mandaviya

12. Bhupender Yadav

13. Parshottam Rupala

14. G. Kishan Reddy

15. Anurag Singh Thakur

16. Pankaj Choudhary

17. Anupriya Singh Patel

18. Satya Pal Singh Baghel

19. Rajeev Chandrasekhar

20. Sushri Shobha Karandlaje

21. Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma

22 Darshana Vikram Jardosh

23 Meenakashi Lekhi

24. Annpurna Devi

25 A. Narayanaswamy

26 Kaushal Kishore

27. Ajay Bhatt

28. B.L. Verma

29. Ajay Kumar

30. Chauhan Devusinh

31. Bhagwanth Khuba

32. Kapil Moreshwar Patil

33. Sushri Pratima Bhoumik

34. Subhas Sarkar

35. Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad

36. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh

37. Bharati Pravin Pawar

38. Bishweswar Tudu

39. Shantanu Thakur

40. Munjapara Mahendrabhai

41. John Barla

42. L. Murugan

43. Nisith Pramanik

Also, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” and Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister D V Sadananda Gowda have resigned.

Besides Pokhriyal and Gowda, who were cabinet ministers, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar, Minister of State for Education Sanjay Dhotre and Minister of State for Women and Child Development Debasree Chaudhuri have also quit.

Pokhriyal, who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 21, was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here in June again following post-Covid complications. He has resigned from his post citing health reasons, sources said. The former Uttarakhand chief minister took charge as the HRD Minister in May 2019.

Dhotre, who represents the Akola Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra, also took charge as the MoS for Education, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology in May 2019.

Chaudhuri submitted her resignation in the morning, one of her close aides said. She was elected to the Lok Sabha from West Bengal’s Raiganj constituency in the 2019 general elections.

Asked whether he has resigned from the post of Labour Minister, Gangwar answered in the affirmative. “Yes, I have resigned,” he told PTI.

Gangwar said he is not aware what his new role in the government will be.

The ministers for finance, foreign affairs, home and defence, however, were unlikely to be changed, according to the reports.

Before announcing his first cabinet reshuffle since winning a second term in 2019, Modi consulted leaders of his Bharatiya Janata Party, a government official said.

State-run All India Radio said Modi is expected to name younger members of his party to be ministers and also give greater representation to women.

There are plans for a ceremony to swear-in new ministers at the presidential palace at 6pm (1230 GMT), an official at the palace said. Only a small number of people will be attending the ceremony due to the coronavirus risk.

Modi’s government has faced its most stinging criticism in years as the infections and deaths surged in April and May, overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums.

Images of bodies of presumed COVID-19 victims washed up on the banks of the Ganges river fuelled outrage over a failure to do more to protect vulnerable communities.