Gujarat gets 18-member ministry


Gandhinagar : An 18-member ministry was sworn in Friday in Gujarat, where Chief Minister Narendra Modi led the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a dazzling electoral victory about a fortnight ago.

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Nine cabinet ministers and nine ministers of state were sworn in at an hour-long ceremony at the sprawling lawn behind the Gujarat assembly. Governor Nawal Kishore Sharma administered the oath of office and secrecy.

The ministry includes nine new faces and two women. Modi took oath as chief minister for a third time Dec 25.

Seven members of the outgoing Modi ministry have been dropped, most surprising being former health minister Ashok Bhat, who won from Khadia in Ahmedabad city for a record eighth time.

The other big surprise was Anil Patel from Mehsana, who was the industry minister in the previous ministry. Both are considered staunch supporters of the chief minister.

Others who have been dropped include Mulu Baira, Bharat Barot, Bhupendra Lakhavala, Hasumatiben Korat and Surindersinh Chauhan.

Vajubhai Vala, who was finance minister in the previous government, now holds the number two rank in the cabinet.

Next to Vala is Narotham Patel, followed by Anandiben Patel, who was the education minister earlier.

Of some significance is the return of Jainarayan Vyas, Fakirbhai Vaghela, Nitin Patel and Dilip Sanghani.

Vyas and Vaghela are known to have at one time moved close to BJP dissident leader and former chief minister Keshubhai Patel.

The new faces in the ministry with cabinet rank include Vasan Ashir, Kirit Rana, Prabhat Patel and Mayaben Kodnani.

Anandiben and Mayaben are the two women ministers in the cabinet.

There are five new faces who are state ministers: Kiritsinh Rana, Parbat Patel, Maya Kodnani, Jaisinh Chauhan and Vasan Ahir.

Amit Shah, who was minister of state for home with independent charge, was sworn in as a minister of state.

Six of the new ministers are from the Saurashtra-Kutch region, which heavily voted for Modi despite the domineering presence there of Keshubhai Patel.