Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first ministerial shuffle of his second term brings in seven more women ministers seeks to address long-standing criticism of his previous Council of Ministers, that only three Cabinet and junior ministers were women. The criticism had only been underlined when Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned as Minister of Food Processing Industries after her party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, walked out of the National Democratic Alliance in September last year over the new farm laws.
That left PM Modi with just two women Cabinet ministers, Nirmala Sitharaman and Smriti Irani. The three Ministers of State were Niranjan Jyoti, Renuka Singh, and Debasree Chaudhury. Among these, Debasree Chaudhury resigned from her post during the reshuffle.
The Modi 2.0 revamp now takes the representation of women in the Union Council of Ministers to 11. In addition to the continuing women ministers — Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, Niranjan Jyoti, and Renuka Singh — the seven new women are:
Anupriya Singh Patel: At 40 years of age, Anupriya Singh Patel is the youngest woman member of Prime Minister Modi’s new cabinet. She is the President of Apna Dal (Sonelal), a party functioning in Uttar Pradesh. She has been a Member of Parliament from Mirzapur constituency since 2014 and was the Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare between 2014 and 2019, in the first term of the Modi government. She has constantly demanded a separate ministry for OBCs to redress their issues. She has taken charge of the Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Bharati Pravin Pawar: Representing Dindori constituency of Maharashtra in Lok Sabha for the first time, this lady has been inducted in the Modi government. She is 49 years old. Before politics, she was a medical practitioner and holds an MBBS degree from NDMVPS Medical College, Nashik. She has worked closely for eradication of malnutrition and provision of clean drinking water to people. Before becoming a Lok Sabha MP, she has also served as Member of Zila Parishad in Nashik. In the new Cabinet, she will be the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare.
Annpurna Devi: BJP Lok Sabha MP from Koderma, Jharkhand, this 51-year-old lady has sworn in as a Minister of State for Education. Before becoming a Lok Sabha MP, she also represented Koderma in the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly from Rashtriya Janata Dal. After winning the Lok Sabha seat, she became the Deputy Speaker of Jharkhand. She also became the National Vice-President of BJP and co-in-charge of Haryana. She will be the Minister of State in the Ministry of Education.
Sushri Pratima Bhoumik: At 52 years of age, she represents Tripura West Constituency in the Lok Sabha. She belongs to a humble background and has studied Bio-Science at Women’s College, Tripura University. She is serving as Lok Sabha MP for the first time and will now be Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Shobha Karandlaje: A BJP Lok Sabha MP from Udupi Chikmagalur, she has two Master’s degrees, one in sociology and the other in social work. She has been a social worker prior to joining politics. Since 2004, Karandlaje has been active in politics. She was a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council between 2004 and 2008. Karandlaje also held various ministries in the Karnataka government between 2008 and 2013. She has been a member of the Lok Sabha since 2014 and now is a Minister of State for Agriculture.
Meenakshi Lekhi: A law graduate from Delhi University, Lekhi has been a popular face of BJP and a good orator known for her skills in the cutting opponents to size. She became the Vice-President of BJP’s Mahila Morcha in 2010. Fifty-four-year-old Lekhi has been the Lok Sabha MP from New Delhi constituency since 2014. She has also been a member of various Parliamentary Committees, and has also served as chairperson of the committee on public Undertakings and the joint committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019. She will be the Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Culture.
Darshana Vikram Jardosh: Jardosh will be the Minister of State in the Ministry of Textile and Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways. This 60-year-old has been a corporator in Surat, Gujarat. Her career in politics includes being the Vice President of BJP Ward 8 Committee, Surat in 1988, General Secretary of Mahila Morcha Surat, in 2006 to being elected as MP in Lok Sabha. It is her third consecutive term as MP and she is the only woman apart from Indira Gandhi to have got half a million votes in a general election. She is a B.Com graduate from Sir K.P. College of Commerce, Surat.