NEW DELHI, Nov 9 � Manohar Parrikar, tipped to get the Defence portfolio, and former Shiv Sainik Suresh Prabhu were today inducted into the Union Cabinet as Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought 21 new faces into his Council of Ministers, but the Shiv Sena stuck a jarring note holding back a senior leader from joining the government.
The already-strained BJP-Sena ties further dipped today when Prabhu, Power minister in the Vajpayee government, deserted the Sena and joined the BJP this morning to take oath as a Cabinet minister. Prabhu has already been appointed Modi�s �sherpa� for the G-20 Summit and will be brought to the Rajya Sabha by the BJP.
Senior BJP leader JP Nadda and Jat leader from Haryana Birender Singh, who joined the BJP ahead of the recent Assembly elections, also took oath as Cabinet ministers.
Bandaru Dattatreya and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who were ministers in the Vajpayee government, and Mahesh Sharma, newly-elected MP from Gautam Buddh Nagar bordering Delhi, were sworn in as Ministers of State with independent charge.
Fourteen other Ministers of State were sworn in. They are � Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Ram Kripal Yadav, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, Sanwar Lal Jat, Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya Giriraj Singh, Hansraj Ahir, Ram Shankar Katheria, Jayant Sinha, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Babul Supriyo, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Vijay Sampla (all BJP) and Y S Chowdary, a Rajya Sabha member from the TDP.
This is the first expansion of his ministry by Prime Minister Modi since he assumed power in May. Parrikar is all set to be given Defence portfolio, which is held as additional charge by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Sena�s Rajya Sabha member Anil Desai, who was tipped to become a minister, was ordered to return to Mumbai from the airport here just hours before the swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which said he was not available �for the purpose�.
Against Sena�s demand for two more Cabinet berths, the party was reportedly told by BJP president Amit Shah that only one post of the Minister of State was possible for Desai. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray then decided to call it off.
The party is also said to be planning to withdraw Anant Geete, Heavy Industry Minister, from the Modi government and sit in the opposition in Maharashtra Assembly.
Significantly, Naqvi, BJP vice president and a minister in the Vajpayee government, was only made a Minister of State, and Rudy became MoS with independent charge, but eyebrows went up when Mahesh Sharma, a first-time member of Lok Sabha, was made Minister of State with independent charge. Ahir was rewarded for his relentless campaign as a whistle-blower in the coal block allocation scam.
Among those rewarded with ministerial berths were Giriraj Singh, Lok Sabha member from Bihar who had made a controversial statement that the place for those who do not like Modi is in Pakistan and Ram Kripal Yadav, a former RJD leader, who defeated Lalu Prasad�s daughter in Patliputra on BJP ticket.
The induction of Rudy, who defeated Lalu�s wife Rabri Devi in Saran, Giriraj Singh and Yadav is seen as an attempt to woo various caste groups in Bihar which will go to Assembly polls next year.
The strength of the Union Council of Ministers goes up from 45 to 66. Of this, 27 including the Prime Minister are of Cabinet rank, 13 Ministers of State with independent charge and 26 Ministers of State.
One-third of today�s induction and overall strength of the ministry comes from heartland Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.