New Delhi: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitely is the new Defence Minister of India, but probably this is an intermediate measure till the next cabinet expansion of newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Government.
Jaitley, who also has the charge of Finance Minister, may find almost no time to handle the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and its diverse wings that need a full time minister. In two months time, he has to present a Budget as Finance Minister. Jaitely is 61 years of age, has good grasp over defence issues and a member of the Rajya Sabha. Today he told mediapersons: "For a transient phase, I will be looking after Ministry of Defence also, but that's only an additional charge till there's an expansion in cabinet itself”.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today allocated the portfolios of his ministers. The BJP-–led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was sworn in yesterday ending the two-term ten- year (2004-2014) regime of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Rao Inderjit Singh, an old hand , the Ministry of Defence has been made the Minister of State in the MoD. He was an MoS in the ministry in the first term of the Congress-led UPA regime (2004-2009). He, in 2008, famously batted for the Arjun tanks when the Indian Army had first rejected the DRDO produced product. This had led to open trial between Russian made T-90 and the Arjun – 124 pieces of the tanks were latter. Rao was not made a minister in the second term of the UPA (2009-2014). He quit the Congress and joined the BJP and was reelected as MP from Gurgaon.
Senior BJP leader and party President Rajnath Singh will be the new Home Minister. A man of all seasons, the Thakur from Uttar Pradesh, has been the state Chief Minister and was Surface Transport Minister in the previous NDA regime ( 1998-2004). He is expected to bring in maturity in the sensitive ministry. Both, Rajnath Singh and Jaitely, will be part of the all-powerful Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by the Prime Minister. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will complete the four-member body
Former Indian Army Chief General (retd) VK Singh will also have hands full. He has been made Minister of State with independent charge of the North East. He has served as Eastern Commander and knows the area well. He will also be MoS under Sushma Swaraj for matters of external affairs, yet again his experience as former Chief will come handy in countries around India and that are dependent on India for security. The general may not need any introduction to how India’s security umbrella can be used to seek favour from smaller countries. Just by offering military training doors can open in key nations.