Several new ministers assume office

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: May 28 2014, 03:15am hrs
Several new ministers in the Narendra Modi government today took charge of their ministries while heavyweights like Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari will do so tomorrow.

Shiv Sena's senior leader Anant Geete did not assume the charge of the Heavy Industries Ministry today as he was believed to be unhappy over his portfolio.

Getting down to business a day after he was sworn in along with 45 others in the new government, Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley pledged to contain price rise, restore confidence of investors in the economy and promote growth while keeping the fiscal deficit under check.

Jaitley, who also dons the mantle as Defence minister, said the process of acquiring weapon needs to be accelerated while ensuring that there are no "avoidable controversies".

Though Rajnath will assume charge as Home Minister tomorrow, he directed Home Secretary Anil Goswami to prepare a detailed presentation on the country's internal security situation and other key issues.

He was briefed by the Home Secretary on various issues concerning the ministry.

Swaraj will formally take charge as External Affairs Minister tomorrow but she had a hectiv day today being aprt of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's delegation during his meetings with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other SAARC leaders.

Senior BJP leader and former party president Gadkari, the new minister for Road Transport & Highways (RTH) and Shipping will also assume office on Wednesday after returning from Nagpur.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said establishment of a National Judicial Commission to give Executive a say in appointment of judges and setting up of an SIT on black money stashed abroad are priority areas for the new government.

Prasad, who is also Minister for Communications and IT, said restoring investor confidence, improving quality of services and establishing broadband highways will be on top of his agenda in this ministry.

Against the backdrop of the Gorakhdham train mishap that has claimed 26 lives, new Railway Minister D V Sadanand Gowda said railway safety was a matter of concern and listed safety, security and speed as his top priorities.

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reaffirmed BJP's stand on FDI in multi-brand retail, indicating that foreign players will not be allowed to open mega stores in the country as it may adversely impact small traders and farmers.

Taking charge of the Health ministry, Harsh Vardhan promised transparency and e-governance and said he will be interacting with national and international experts to formulate policies and execute them successfull

Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla said providing reservation was no solution to development concerns of Muslims and stressed that the new government will ensure progress of all communities, with special focus on education facilities for minorities.

Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, who took over as the Minister for Rural Development, said proper implementation of recently enacted Land Acquisition law and Modi's key electoral plank that every household will be provided sanitation and drinking water will be among his priorities.

Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said his top priorities are to contain price rise in food items, improve public distribution system (PDS) and create adequate storage capacity for foodgrains.

On his first day in office, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said his government believes in freedom of press as it is the essence of democracy and no "external" regulation has worked in media.

Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani said government was mulling increasing the spending on higher education to six per cent of the GDP and will also have a relook at the legislations on higher education which lapsed with the end of the previous Lok Sabha.