Prime Minister Narendra Modi effected sweeping changes in his council of ministers, adding Prakash Javadekar to the Cabinet, rewarding some members with more important portfolios and shunting aside others while signalling clearly that economically critical departments need dynamic leadership.
The second major reshuffle of the council of ministers since the Modi government took charge in May 2014 has been made with an eye to the rest of its five-year term and, as importantly , key assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh next year.
Javadekar was named the new human resource development minister, replacing Smriti Irani, who's had a tumultuous time in the job. Ravi Shankar Prasad was made the new law minister and moved out of telecom. Ananth Kumar was given additional responsibility of parliamentary affairs, which used to be with M Venkaiah Naidu. Kumar will need to ensure that the ruling coalition can build bridges with the Opposition on key reform legislation that's stuck, such as the goods & services tax (GST).
While political equations definitely played a role in preparing the list, Modi has taken into consideration performance and moved ministers around in accordance with competence and talent to portfolios where they can give their best.
Irani has been made textile minister. Anil Madhav Dave will be the new environment minister with independent charge in place of Javadekar. Santosh Gangwar, who was minister of state with independent charge of textiles, has been moved to finance, replacing Jayant Sinha, who will now be junior aviation minister.
Modi has split the telecom and IT ministry.While Prasad will retain electronics and IT, Manoj Sinha has been made minister of state (independent charge) for communications. Prasad was previously law minister until the last reshuffle in 2015.
DV Sadananda Gowda has been moved out of law & justice and given the relatively lightweight statistics and programme implementation portfolio, ostensibly due to non-performance. He was Modi's first railway minister before being replaced by Suresh Prabhu.
Venkaiah Naidu replaces Arun Jaitley as information & broadcasting minister. Jaitley remains in charge of finance. Ananth Kumar will continue to hold the chemicals and fertiliser ministry.
Narendra Singh Tomar, who was mines & minerals minister, will now hold the more important rural development, panchayati raj, drinking water and sanitation ministries that were till now headed by Chaudhary Birendra Singh. The latter has been moved to the steel ministry.
Minister of state (independent charge) Piyush Goyal gets additional charge of mines.
Among other ministers of state, Rajiv Pratap Rudy has been moved out of parliamentary affairs and replaced by SS Ahluwalia, who will handle affairs in the Lok Sabha.
Ahluwalia will also be junior minister for agriculture. Sanjeev Balyan, who's courted controversy for some of his comments regarding minorities, has been moved out of agriculture to water resources.
Vijay Goel has been made minister of state for youth affairs and sports, a portfolio held by Sarbananda Sonowal till he took over as Assam chief minister. Goel also becomes junior minister in the water resources ministry.
Hansraj Ahir has been made minister of state for home. He previously held the chemicals and fertiliser portfolio. Journalist-politician MJ Akbar will be minister of state for external affairs and is likely to be entrusted with West Asia and Haj affairs.
Others given important portfolios as ministers of state are Anupriya Patel and Faggan Singh Kulaste (both health and family welfare), Arjun Meghwal (finance and corporate affairs), Mahendra Nath Pandey (HRD), Ajay Tamta (textile), Krishna Raj (women and child development), Ramdas Athawale (social justice and empowerment), Rajen Gohain (railways) and Purushottam Rupala (agriculture and panchayati raj).
Five ministers of state were dropped in the exercise.