Old aides pack new Modi team

4 new faces, only 2 women, 5 inductions from Saurashtra

The third Narendra Modi cabinet will have a new speaker and possibly a new finance minister, with the last assembly's speaker sworn into the cabinet and the finance minister not among the seven cabinet ministers who took oath on Wednesday.

Ganpat Vasava, who used to be speaker, was taken in as the tribal face of the cabinet. Vajubhai Vala, the MLA who won Rajkot seven times in a row and who had vacated his seat in 2002 to make way for Modi's first electoral contest as chief minister, was not inducted in the first round. Two grand events that will involve the finance minister are coming up the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, followed by the annual budget. Two others who were ministers but not sworn in Wednesday are Narottam Patel and Amit Shah.

The ministry of 16, including nine ministers of state, has four new faces while the other 12 are mostly leaders close to Modi. Among old-timers are Nitin Patel, four-time MLA who was in charge of urban development, and Anandi Patel, one of Modi's closest aides, who held revenue and notched the highest winning margin in the polls.

In fact, every minister among the cabinet's seven is someone Modi has worked very closely with over the last 10 years. Saurabh Patel, elected from Saurashtra since 1998 but who this time contested from Akota in Vadodara, too has been retained in the cabinet; he held energy and industry. He is a very close confidant of Modi. Veteran Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, a Kshatriya leader, held agriculture.

Babu Bokhiria, former irrigation minister, makes it back to the cabinet after defeating Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia. Purshottam Solanki was retained as minister of state after defeating CLP leader Shaktisinh Gohil. Bokhiria and Solanki both face criminal charges.

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