Newly inducted Ministers assume charge, spell out priorities

A day after the union cabinet’s expansion and reshuffle, new Ministers as well as the old ones elevated or reshuffled assumed charge of their new responsibilities on Monday and spelled out their priorities ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Those who assumed charge of their new responsibilities were Piyush Goyal, Uma Bharti, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, K.J. Alphons, Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Giriraj Singh, Mahesh Sharma, Sudarshan Bhagat, Anantkumar Hegde, Virendra Kumar, Satya Pal Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Gajendra Singh and Krishna Raj.

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who got a promotion and additional responsibility of the Skill Development Ministry, laid emphasis on scale and speed while former diplomat and new Minister of State Hardeep Singh Puri spoke of targets to achieve housing for all by 2022.

Puri, the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs, said he would give his best to meet the targets.

“The urban housing and development challenges are daunting and transformative. I intend to give my best to meet the targets under various new urban missions,” Puri said.

He said the priorities for the urban sector had already been outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he would work on them.

He said there were two sets of targets — some to be achieved by 2019 and others by 2022.

“If challenges are not met in two years, they can’t be met even in six years. Going by the progress on ground, they can be met,” he said.

Puri later reviewed the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).

Pradhan, who assumed charge as Skill Development Minister, told the media that his responsibility was to steer India’s Skill Mission and he would seek to deliver to Modi’s expectations.

“This is a policy-driven ministry and in the last three years we have been able to lay down the foundation for skill development in the country. We will now work towards bringing scale and speed to this programme by bringing convergence and coordination with states, departments and private institutions,” he said.

Hegde, who assumed charge as the junior minister in the ministry, said they will draw a proper road map to bring efficiency in the skill ecosystem.

K.J. Alphons, who took charge as Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge) said the Bharatiya Janata Party had no plans to impose a food code or food emergency in any state, including his native state Kerala.

“It is absolutely untrue. Kerala is a beef-eating state. It is not going to stop eating beef. It will continue to eat beef. The BJP doesn’t have a problem,” Alphons told NDTV.

The only Christian to be part of the National Democratic Alliance government, the former Indian Administrative Service officer said he would act as a bridge between the Prime Minister and the Christian community.

Giriraj Singh, the new Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, said he will strive to increase employment under MSMEs.

Naqvi, who was elevated to Cabinet rank and retained the Minority Affairs Ministry, said “3E — Education, Employment and Empowerment — was and will remain the focus of the government.

Piyush Goyal, who took over as the new Railway Minister, said huge investments were made in three years which will definitely lead to the development of the Railways.

Uma Bharti, who was given charge of only the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry, assumed charge of her new office.

Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma took charge as Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Santosh Kumar Gangwar took over as Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Labour and Employment.

Rathore assumed office as Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Sports. He is the first Olympic medallist to hold the office.

Virendra Kumar took over as Minister of State for Minority Affairs and Satya Pal Singh as Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

Sudarshan Bhagat assumed charge as Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, Gajendra Singh and Krishna Raj as Ministers of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Arjun Ram Meghwal as Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

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