Rajnath Singh, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Shiv Sena leader Subodh Mohite and Minister of State for Road Transport B C Khanduri were inducted into the Union Cabinet on Saturday.
Singh has been given the charge of the agriculture ministry, while Mohite took over the charge of heavy industries. Earlier in the day, Heavy Industries Minister Balasaheb Vikhe Patil had resigned. On Friday, Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh had quit. The elevation of Khanduri to Cabinet rank follows some good work he is said to have done in the implementation of the golden quadrilateral project.
Swami Chinmayanand (BJP), Kailash Meghwal (BJP), Prahlad Singh Patel (BJP), Nagmani (RJD-D) and P C Thomas (Kerala Congress faction) were also inducted as ministers of state into the council of ministers.
Chinmayanand has been given charge of home affairs. Patel has been entrusted with the charge of coal, while Thomas has been given law and justice ministry. Both Meghwal and Nagmani have been given the charge social justice and empowerment ministry.
With today's inductions, the strength of the council of ministers goes up to 80. Of these, 31 are of Cabinet rank and 44 of minister of state level.
President A P J Abdul Kalam administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at a brief ceremony in the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
It was attended by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, Cabinet ministers and former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral.
Shortly after the swearing-in ceremony, Vajpayee said a minor reshuffle will be undertaken soon.
He said talks with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee were underway on resolving whom to induct from the party. Vajpayee also hinted that another Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam representative in place of Gingee Ramachandran, who resigned on Friday, could be inducted.
Contrary to earlier indications that the extra burden of some of the ministers could be reduced, the prime minister left untouched the portfolios of Arun Jaitley, Arun Shourie and Sushma Swaraj, who all have more than one crucial ministry.The only minister, who has shed additional responsibility, has been Anant Kumar from whom rural development has been taken, and given to Kashiram Rana. Rana was handling textiles so far.
Portfolios of some ministers of state have also been changed.
Santosh Kumar Gangwar has been shifted to labour with additional charge in parliamentary affairs. Vijay Goel moves from labour to youth affairs and sports, while Sumitra Mahajan from HRD to petroleum and natural gas.
Sripad Yesso Naik was shifted to road transport and highways, Sanjay Paswan to HRD and Ashok Pradhan to communication and Information Technology.