In Tweet Indicating His Exit, Suresh Prabhu Wishes 'Rail Family'

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Of the other two new Cabinet ministers, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan got additional charge of Skill Development Entrepreneurship, while Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi retained the Minority Affairs Ministry.

Goyal has been given charge of the railway ministry to take forward reforms initiated by Suresh Prabhu towards corporatization of railways, monetization of the transporter's assets and boosting non-fare revenue to deliver tangible outcomes, analysts said.

New Delhi, Sep 3 With a focus on delivery as he prepares for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today handed key portfolios to ministers with "proven" track record and sprang a surprise by elevating Nirmala Sitharaman as the first full-time woman Defence Minister.

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The new ministers of state sworn in by President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony in the Rashtrapati Bhavan include Virendra Kumar, Anant Kumar Hegde and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, former IAS officers Alphons Kannanthanam and R K Singh, former diplomat Hardeep Puri and ex-Mumbai police chief Satyapal Singh.

Nitin Gadkari, who was holding Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, will also head the Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry.

Sitharaman got Defence in place of Commerce, Goyal had to let go off Power while retaining Coal and Naqvi was relieved of his junior responsibility in the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry. All the three were elevated to Cabinet rank.

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Pradhan, now a cabinet minister, has emerged as the BJP's face in Odisha and become one of its prominent leaders as the party has highlighted the "success" of his ministry's scheme of giving free LPG connections to the poor in its political campaigns.

The latest reshuffle confirms the pattern set more than a decade ago, during NDA-I, when the BJP's first-generation leadership, under Vajpayee and Advani, promoted the next set, including Sushma Swaraj, Pramod Mahajan, Venkaiah Naidu, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and Modi. Both have been made ministers of state (independent charge). Mr Rathore will also continue as MoS at I&B.

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