The Hindu
New Delhi

Leaner, a little younger, and with more women in positions of power — the incoming Council of Ministers is in some ways a change from the outgoing one.

The average minister is worth over Rs. 13 crore, however, and at least 14 ministers have criminal cases against them.

The average age of the new cabinet is just over 60, three years less than the average age that MPs of the outgoing cabinet were at the start of their term. The average age of the Council of Ministers as a whole is 57.4 years, according to The Hindu’s analysis of data from the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha websites, the Association for Democratic Reforms and PRS Legislative Research. Cabinet Minister Najma Heptullah, who is getting a ministerial berth for the first time at 74, is the oldest and first-time Rajya Sabha MP Smriti Irani at the age of 38 is the youngest. The minister she replaces, Pallam Raju, was the youngest minister in the outgoing cabinet, 52 when he demitted office.

The new Council of ministers has seven women among its 46, six of them of with cabinet rank and one with Minister of State rank with independent charge. The outgoing Council of Ministers had nine women among its 71, but just two of them — Chandresh Kumari Katoch (culture) and Girija Vyas (housing and urban poverty alleviation) were of cabinet rank.

Both the incoming and outgoing cabinet have one thing in common — each have four ministerial berths given to allies, and all others with the main party, the Congress in the outgoing Lok Sabha and the BJP in the incoming one.

Led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, nine of the outgoing cabinet’s 28 cabinet ministers, or 32%, came through the Rajya Sabha. While PM Mr. Modi came through a Lok Sabha seat, a quarter of his cabinet has taken the Rajya Sabha route.

The new cabinet is worth Rs. 429 crores put together (minus Thawar Chand Gehlot, whose financial information was not immediately available), at an average of Rs. 18.66 crore per minister. The new Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is the richest, worth over Rs 113 crore, while Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Ramvilas Paswan is the only non-crorepati minister, with assets of Rs. 96 lakh.

Cabinet minister Uma Bharti has the longest list of criminal cases against her — 13 cases including two charges of attempt to murder and one charge of creating enmity between communities. Nitin Gadkari follows with four criminal charges.

All but seven of the cabinet ministers are graduates and above. Nearly half the cabinet lists ‘politics’ as its profession, and there is one ‘landlord’ (Mr. Raju) and one actor (Ms. Irani).

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