New Delhi: In a major surprise, Sushma Swaraj, one of the senior-most leaders of the BJP, was among seven ministers of the previous Council of Ministers to be dropped as Prime Minister Narendra Modi formed his government for the second term.
The 67-year-old Swaraj who has held key positions in the party and its governments since decades was conspicuous by her absence in the new Cabinet.
Also missing in the new Council of Ministers were Suresh Prabhu, JP Nadda, Mahesh Sharma, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Gen (retd) V.K. Singh and Jayant Sinha.
Although the reasons for Swaraj’s omission were not immediately clear, the main reason possibly could be her ill-health.
Swaraj, who was External Affairs Minister during the previous term of Modi government, did not contest the Lok Sabha elections this time, declaring that her health did not permit her to enter the fray and campaign.
During her tenure as the External Affairs Minister, she was very popular among the Indian diaspora and the compatriots stranded anywhere across the globe. Just one tweet to her about any problem any Indian faced anywhere and she would immediately swing into action and activate the Indian mission in those countries for help.
When the BJP was in Opposition during the UPA government from 2004 to 2014, Swaraj was the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a successful one.
Along with her, Prabhu, who held the key portfolios of Railways and then Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, also did not find a place in the new Council of Ministers.
Nadda, who was the Health Minister in the previous term, was also absent from the list of ministers this time. However, there is speculation that he could be made the BJP President to succeed Amit Shah who has been included in the Cabinet.
Rathore, a former Olympian, who was a successful Sports and Information and Broadcasting Minister, also did not figure in the list of ministers.
Gen V.K. Singh, a former Army Chief who was Minister of State for External Affairs earlier, was also dropped this time, as was Mahesh Sharma, the Minister for Tourism and Culture in the previous government.
Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Finance in the previous government, also was missing in the new Cabinet.
He is the son of former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who has been extremely critical of Modi.