Fresh induction: Modi names new defence minister, enlarges cabinet

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NEW DEHLI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has picked Manohar Parrikar, a politician from Goa to lead the defence ministry, as part of a broader cabinet expansion.

Parrikar, the 58-year-old former chief minister of Goa, was sworn in along with 21 ministers during a ceremony at the presidential palace in New Delhi on Sunday.

The former chief minister is set to succeed Arun Jaitley, who has been in charge of the finance and defence ministries since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power earlier this year.

India’s new defence minister inherits a long list of challenges, including the mammoth task of upgrading the country’s aging military arsenal, combating tensions at the borders with Pakistan and China, which peaked during Jaitley’s term at the helm.

Over the past few months, India has been involved in a tense face-off with the Chinese military and exchanges of cross-border gunfire with Pakistani forces on the Line of Control (LoC).

Appointing a new defence minister was the main trigger for the first cabinet expansion since Modi took office in May. The fresh induction will take the number of ministers in the Indian government’s cabinet to 66.

The list of ministers who joined the cabinet on Sunday also includes Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a prominent Muslim face in Modi’s hardline party. Naqvi is expected to serve as minister of state or junior minister.

In a statement issued shortly after the oath ceremony, the Indian prime minister said: “I look forward to working with the new ministers to accelerate India’s development journey.”

Commenting on the induction of new minister, Aman Sinha, a spokesman for the ruling BJP, said “This expansion was on the cards for some time,” he added.

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