Seven women in Modi’s council of ministers

New Delhi : Seven women Monday took oath as ministers in the Narendra Modi government, and one of them is set to be a member of the all powerful Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

Sushma Swaraj, tipped to be the external affairs minister, would be a CCS member.

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The prime minister, and ministers of home, defence, finance and external affairs constitute the CCS.

Najma Heptulla (74), a Rajya Sabha member since 1980, is the eldest woman minister while actress-turned-politician Smriti Irani (38) is the youngest in the cabinet.

Heptulla, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, was also Modi’s lone Muslim face.

Uma Bharti, Maneka Gandhi and Shiromani Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal are the other women cabinet ministers.

Besides the six cabinet ministers, BJP’s Nirmala Sitharaman took oath as minister of state with independent charge.

Seetharaman, who is not an MP, has to secure either a Lok Sabha seat or a Rajya Sabha membership within six months to continue in office.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal (48), the Akali Dal MP from Bathinda, is the lone woman from an ally to be sworn-in as a cabinet minister.

In the outgoing Manmohan Singh government, there were just seven women out of 71 ministers and only two – Girija Vyas and Chandresh Katoch – were in the cabinet.

The number of women ministers may increase as Modi is expected to expand the cabinet soon.

If more women come in, it would be icing on the cake as the 16th Lok Sabha has the highest number of women members – 61 – in Lok Sabha history. The Rajya Sabha has 29 women members.