New Delhi: In a major surprise, Sushma Swaraj, one of the senior-most leaders of the BJP, was among several ministers of the previous Council of Ministers to be omitted from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government which was sworn-in on Thursday.
Also missing in the new Council of Ministers were Suresh Prabhu, J.P. Nadda, Uma Bharati, Radha Mohan Singh, Birender Singh, Maneka Gandhi, Mahesh Sharma, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Jayant Sinha, Manoj Sinha, K.J. Alphons, S.S. Ahluwalia, Vijay Goel, Ananth Kumar Hegde, Ram Kripal Yadav, Anant Geete and Anupriya Patel and some others.
Sushma Swaraj, the 67-year-old veteran leader who has served the party and its governments in various key positions for decades, was conspicuous by her absence in the new Cabinet.
Although the reasons for her omission were not immediately clear, but it could be due to her ill-health.
Sushma Swaraj, who was External Affairs Minister during the previous term of Modi government, did not contest the Lok Sabha elections this time, declaring that her health did not permit her to enter the fray and campaign.
During her tenure as the External Affairs Minister, she was very popular among the Indian diaspora and the compatriots stranded anywhere on earth.
Just one tweet tagging her about any problem any Indian faced anywhere and she would immediately swing into action and activate the Indian mission in those countries for help.
When the BJP was in Opposition during the UPA government from 2004 to 2014, Sushma Swaraj was the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a successful one.
Along with her, Prabhu, who held the key portfolios of Railways and then Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, also did not find a place in the new Council of Ministers.
Nadda, who was the Health Minister in the previous term, also was absent from the list of ministers this time. However, there is speculation that he could be made the BJP President, to succeed Amit Shah who has been included in the Cabinet.
Radha Mohan Singh, the Agriculture Minister in the previous government, was also not among those who took oath today, like Manoj Sinha, the former Minister of State for Railways and Communications. Sinha had lost the elections from Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur.
Another significant omission was former firebrand BJP leader Uma Bharti, who held the portfolio of Water Resources initially in the previous government before she was given Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry.
Birender Singh, the Rural Development Minister in the previous government, was also dropped, as was Maneka Gandhi, who had been the Woman and Child Development Minister.
Rathore, a former Olympian who was Sports and Information and Broadcasting Minister, also did not figure in the list of ministers.
Mahesh Sharma, the Minister for Tourism and Culture in the previous government, was left out this time.
Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Finance in the previous government, also was missing in the new Cabinet.
He is the son of former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who has been extremely critical of Modi.
Ahluwalia, who won from West Bengal’s Burdwan-Durgapur after shifting from Darjeeling, was also missing as was BJP leader Vijay Goel and Ananth Kumar Hegde from Karnataka.
From among the BJP’s allies, Anant Geete of Shiv Sena was dropped. The Heavy Industries Minister in the previous government, he lost the elections this time.
Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal, who was Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare in the last government, was also not included this time.