The Morung Express
New Delhi

New Delhi, November 10 (Reuters): Attempted murder, waging war on the state, criminal intimidation and fraud are some of the charges on the rap sheets of ministers Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed to the cabinet on Sunday, jarring with his pledge to clean up politics.

Seven of 21 new ministers face prosecution, taking the total in the 66-member cabinet to almost one third, a higher proportion than before the weekend expansion. At least five people in the cabinet have been charged with serious offences such as rape and rioting.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said any suggestions there were criminals in the cabinet were “completely baseless”. “These are cases arising out of criminal accusations, not cases out of a crime,” he told reporters on Monday, adding that Modi had personally vetted the new ministers.

Ram Shankar Katheria, a lawmaker from Agra, was appointed junior education minister yet has been accused of more than 20 criminal offences including attempted murder and promoting religious or racial hostility. Katheria was not immediately available for comment and a mobile phone number given by his office was switched off.
The inclusion of such politicians does not sit easily with Modi’s election promise to root out corruption, and has led to criticism that he is failing to change the political culture in India where wealthy, tainted politicians sometimes find it easier to win votes.

“It shows scant respect for the rule of law or public sentiment,” said Jagdeep Chhokar, co-founder of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) which campaigns for better governance. “Including these people in the cabinet is a bad omen for our democracy.”
Modi won the biggest parliamentary majority in three decades in May with a promise of graft-free governance after the previous government led by Congress party was mired in a series of damaging corruption scandals.

New Cabinet More 
Tainted Than Old?

Soon after coming to power, Modi called for courts to fast track cases against politicians in an effort to curb political criminality in the world’s largest democracy. Cases in India’s overstretched judicial system often drag on for years.Yet Modi’s cabinet includes twice as many politicians facing criminal charges as the previous Congress party one.
Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, the new junior chemicals and fertilizer minister, was another eye-catching choice. He is charged with around 20 offences, including intent to wage war against India, criminal intimidation and abetting a mutiny.

Ahir did not respond to requests for comment, and it was not immediately clear what incidents the more serious charges pertained to. His secretary said the cases were politically motivated. Ahir is best known for helping unearth corruption in the coal industry while he served on a parliamentary committee.

Shrikant Sharma, a spokesman for Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said it was up to courts to decide if ministers were guilty, and said many of the charges related to political rivalries.

The BJP is led by Amit Shah, the closest aide of Modi, who is accused of ordering police to carry out three extrajudicial killings and running an extortion racket when he served under Modi as home minister in Gujarat almost a decade ago.

He has denied the charges. He is facing a trial in Mumbai.The number of lawmakers charged with offences has more than doubled in the last two decades. About a third of federal and state legislators face charges, the ADR said.

Politicians facing criminal charges are twice as likely to win an election as their untainted peers, making them the preferred choice of candidates for political parties in India, according to a study published last year by the group.

In office, these politicians are sometimes accused of enriching themselves or their backers by siphoning off money from government spending.
“We hear again and again the country’s leaders promise to clean up the system,” said Satish Misra, a political analyst at the Observer Research Foundation. “Self interest prevails over principles. That is why the system never changes.”

List of ministers and portfolios

New Delhi, November 10 (IANS): Prime Minister Narendra Modi expanded his ministry Sunday while reshuffling portfolios of some ministers. Here is the latest list of the council of ministers and their portfolios. Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions; Department of Atomic Energy Department of Space; All important policy issues and all other portfolios not allocated to any Minister

Cabinet Ministers:
    Rajnath Singh: Home Affairs
    Sushma Swaraj: External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs
    Arun Jaitley: Finance, Corporate Affairs, Information & Broadcasting
    M. Venkaiah Naidu: Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Parliamentary Affairs
    Nitin Jairam Gadkari: Road Transport and Highways, Shipping
    Manohar Parrikar: Defence
    Suresh Prabhu: Railways
    D.V. Sadananda Gowda: Law & Justice
    Uma Bharati: Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
    Najma A. Heptulla: Minority Affairs
    Ramvilas Paswan: Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
    Kalraj Mishra: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
    Maneka Sanjay Gandhi: Women and Child Development
    Ananthkumar: Chemicals and Fertilizers
    Ravi Shankar Prasad: Communications and Information Technology
    Jagat Prakash Nadda: Health & Family Welfare
    Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati: Civil Aviation
    Anant Geete: Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
    Harsimrat Kaur Badal: Food Processing Industries
    Narendra Singh Tomar: Mines, Steel
    Chaudhary Birender Singh: Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation
    Jual Oram: Tribal Affairs
    Radha Mohan Singh: Agriculture
    Thaawar Chand Gehlot: Social Justice & Empowerment
    Smriti Zubin Irani: Human Resource Development
    Harsh Vardhan: Science and Technology, Earth Sciences

Ministers of State:
    General V.K. Singh: Statistics and Programme Implementation (Independent Charge), External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs
    Inderjit Singh Rao: Planning (Independent Charge), Defence
    Santosh Kumar Gangwar: Textiles (Independent Charge)
    Bandaru Dattatreya: Labour and Employment (Independent Charge)
    Rajiv Pratap Rudy: Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (Independent Charge), Parliamentary Affairs
    Shripad Yesso Naik: AAYUSH (Independent Charge), Health & Family Welfare
    Dharmendra Pradhan: Petroleum and Natural Gas (Independent Charge)
    Sarbananda Sonowal: Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge)
    Prakash Javadekar: Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge)
    Piyush Goyal: Power (Independent Charge), Coal (Independent Charge), New and Renewable Energy (Independent Charge)
    Jitendra Singh: Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge), Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space
    Nirmala Sitharaman: Commerce and Industry (Independent Charge)
    Mahesh Sharma: Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge), Civil Aviation
    Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi: Minority Affairs, Parliamentary Affairs
    Ram Kripal Yadav: Drinking Water & Sanitation
    Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary: Home Affairs
    Sanwar Lal Jat: Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation
    Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya: Agriculture
    Giriraj Singh: Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises
    Hansraj Gangaram Ahir: Chemicals & Fertilizers
    G.M. Siddeshwara: Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises
    Manoj Sinha: Railways
    Nihalchand: Panchayati Raj
    Upendra Kushwaha: Human Resource Development
    Radhakrishnan P.: Road Transport & Highways, Shipping
    Kiren Rijiju: Home Affairs
    Krishan Pal: Social Justice & Empowerment
    Sanjeev Kumar Balyan: Agriculture
    Manuskhbhai Dhanjibhai Vasava: Tribal Affairs
    Raosaheb Dadarao Danve: Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
    Vishnu Deo Sai: Mines, Steel
    Sudarshan Bhagat: Rural Development
    Ram Shankar Katheria: Human Resource Development
    Y.S. Chowdary: Science and Technology, Earth Science
    Jayant Sinha: Finance
    Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore: Information & Broadcasting
    Babul Supria (Babul Supriyo) Baral: Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation
    Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti: Food Processing Industries
    Vijay Sampla: Social Justice & Empowerment

© Association for Democratic Reforms
Privacy And Terms Of Use
Donation Payment Method