New Delhi: After a giant ceremony that saw 57 ministers being administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Nath Kovind, the revelations on who will chair over key portfolios such as Defence, Home, Finance and External Affairs are more or less here.
There had been intense speculation on the allotment of portfolios after the swearing in ceremony. Media reports were gung-ho on 54 year old Amit Shah, referred by BJP party insiders as the Chanakya, as the new Finance Minister. A section of media also dropped the name of Piyush Goyal, the first Chartered Accountant to deliver a budget, as one heading the Finance ministry in the absence of Arun Jaitley.
However, the Prime Minister may have announced a surprise move. A surprise for the media.
Nirmala Sitharaman, former commerce minister and defence minister has been picked for the job of Finance Minister and Corporate Affairs. Amit Shah has reported as one to head Home Ministry. Rajnath Singh will be heading the Defence Ministry.
Cabinet portfolios announced. Rajnath Singh new Defence Minister, Amit Shah now Home Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman Finance Minister and S Jaishankar new External Affairs Minister. pic.twitter.com/bCz1KdLrYj— ANI (@ANI) May 31, 2019
Confirmation of the announcement:
Jaishankar for EAM, Nirmala Sitharaman for Finance, Amit Shah for Home and Rajnath Singh for Defence... PM has changed the CCS completely in Modi 2.0 pic.twitter.com/k8vssD2GnE— Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) May 31, 2019
Born in Madurai, Sitharaman joined the BJP in 2008 and was inducted as a junior minister in Modi's cabinet in June 2014. Graduated from Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, Tiruchirapalli, Sitharaman also has an M. Phil in International Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University. It is said that globalisation and impact on developing economies was one of her favourite subjects.
A section of media has reported that Sitharaman would be the first woman heading the Finance Ministry. However, that might not be completely true. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was India's first woman Finance minister. Her first budget attempted a social touch but saw taxes jacked to astronomical rates, here is more on that budget.
The Finance ministry will be integral to delivery of poll-promises and growth as desired by markets and India Inc. GDP numbers have slipped in the past three years, profits posted by India Inc for Q4 numbers have missed targets, and the consumption trend overall has remained tepid. The debate on Jobs, Bank privatisation, investment-friendliness, foreign investment and social schemes linger.
The new Finance Minister is expected to formulate policies that could address these issues. Her knowledge on a wide-variety of topics such as Commerce, Trade, Global Economics and even Banking is expected may help in policy formulation.
Anurag Thakur has been appointed as the Minister of State for Finance within the new cabinet. Thakur was formerly associated with the Board of Control for Cricket in India as its President.
The Union budget is likely to be announced in a month. The exact date of presentation is yet to be announced, but the ministry was reported as busy in preparation of a 100 day plan as well as other documents. The ministry is certain that the Halwa for the coming years could be sweeter and laced with impressive reforms.
Meanwhile, here are some Twitter reactions:
All the print & digital media right now,— Prashant Gupta (@P727) May 31, 2019
Ctrl + F : Amit Shah
Ctrl + V : Nirmala Sitharaman
None of the news agencies had any clue about the portfolio yet Amit Shah was declared FM and worries were shown. Really hope some restraint would have been there.
Nirmala Sitharaman is not the minister of defence anymore but can I just say how proud it made me as a woman.— Shiwangee (@shiwangeec) May 31, 2019
I can't emphasise enough on how powerful this picture is. pic.twitter.com/A8nUBnpTai
Sincerely hope that @nsitharaman and @ianuragthakur bring a (much needed) whole new perspective to the Finance Ministry. These coming 5 years are possibly the most crucial ones in the modern history of Indian economy!— Dr Praveen Patil (@5Forty3) May 31, 2019
So very proud to see Nirmala Sitharaman elevated as the Finance and Corporate Affairs in the new Modi Cabinet!! Many Congratulations Ma’m @nsitharaman— S. Vishnukanth (@vishy_vish) May 31, 2019
At least Nirmala Sitharaman has a genuine Masters degree in Economics. Happy with that pick, let’s see how she performs!— Rahul Sharma (@s24_rahul) May 31, 2019
Two of the Big Four in PM Modi's new Cabinet are JNUites -- Nirmala Sitharaman from my centre (CESP) and S Jaishankar who studied at SIS before making it to Indian Foreign Service.— Rajesh Mahapatra (@rajeshmahapatra) May 31, 2019
This is just FYI, for those who keep questioning JNU's contribution to "nation building."
Finance Ministry is absolute shocking ... Nirmala sitharaman as Cabinet minister and Anurag Thakur as state minister !! really ? its Finance of Country not BCCI #ModiCabinet— સુરતી લાલા (@KonJaatHoTum) May 31, 2019
Meticulous and prominent selection of members as well allocation of respective ministry to ensure the fulfillment of promises.— CA Jamlappa (@CA_Jamlappa) May 31, 2019
Among other Best Selection is - Lady Finance Minister Hon'ble Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman.
Thanks for the nation.