Prime Minister Narendra Modi today carried out a major expansion of his Council of Ministers, inducting 19 new faces, including several dalit and OBC leaders as well as from poll-bound states like UP.
Prakash Javadekar, who held the independent charge of environment, was the lone minister promoted to the cabinet rank while all new inductees took oath as ministers of state.
Today's exercise underlines BJP's attempts at wooing Dalits and OBCs, whose votes would be crucial to its fortunes in key states like UP and Gujarat.
All barring Vijay Goel and Faggan Kulaste are new faces while a few have been ministers in BJP-ruled state governments.
Ajay Tamta, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Krishna Raj, Ramdas Athawale, Ramesh C Jigaginagi were among the Dalit MPs sworn in as ministers by President Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Others who were inducted in the Modi government included Anupriya Patel, S S Ahluwalia, P P Chadudhary, C R Chaudhary, M J Akbar, J Bhabhor, Purshotam Rupala Mansukhbhai Mandaviya, S R Bhamre, Mahendra Nath Padey, A M Dave, Rajen Gohain.
While Patel and Athawale are BJP allies, all others are from BJP. Among the 19 inductees, three MPs each from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh took oath while four from Rajasthan were also sworn in.
Those dropped from the ministry are Nihalchand, Ram Shankar Katheria, Sanwar Lal Jat, Manuskhbhai D Vasava and M K Kundariya. All barring Goel and Faggan Kulaste are new faces while a few have been ministers in BJP-ruled state governments.