Nirmala Sitharaman, who just took oath as the new Cabinet member, has been given the Defence Ministry portfolio, according to a report of Times Now. Incidentally, she has become the first full-time woman defence minister of India and only the second woman to hold the crucial ministry after Indira Gandhi.
Modi, in his third Cabinet reshuffle today inducted 13 new ministers.
Jaitley has been handling the ministry after Manohar Parrikar quit to become the Goa’s chief minister. The abrupt departure of Parrikar from the ministry left several critical tasks unfinished, including military reforms that are midway and a battle with the bureaucracy over steps to boost local manufacturing
The post of Defence Minister is crucial, considering the fact both eastern and western fronts are on high alert.
Sitharaman’s elevation was totally out of the blue as Nitin Gadkari’s name was also in the vine for the post while others expected Jaitley to keep the post following his success in the Doklam crisis.
Meanwhile, Nirmala Sitharaman today credited her elevation to a cabinet rank minister to “cosmic grace” and support from party leadership.
“Somebody who has come from a small town, grown into the party with all the support of the leadership, and if given such responsibility, it just makes you feel sometimes that cosmic grace is there. Otherwise it is impossible,” she told reporters here after taking oath.
To a query over the opposition’s criticism of her working as commerce minister, the BJP leader said she was neither averse nor frightened by criticism.
“Every criticism is a message and we have to learn from it. I am not averse to criticism and also not frightened of it (criticism), but certainly take messages from them.
“Criticism per se do not reflect on performance, it only adds to your performance if you are ready to take on-board the corrections that may be workable,” she said.
Sitharaman was also quick to highlight a number of initiatives by the commerce ministry like Start up India and Make in India.
“With the support of the prime minister, so many things have happened in the ministry like Start up India, Make in India etc. There is some misconception about ‘Make in India’, but it will be answered,” she said.
Sitharaman was earlier Minister of State (Independent Charge) Commerce. (Agencies)