Sushma Swaraj, an Indian politician who served as leader of the opposition in the last outing of the Lok Sabha, the lower house in India's parliament, could be the country's next foreign minister, the Times of India reported Monday, citing a source, ahead of Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony.
The 63-year-old Swaraj is a veteran politician having held cabinet positions in information and broadcasting, and health and parliamentary affairs. A formidable orator, the former opposition leader lists economy and defense as her special interests on a government website. Along with Modi, 35 government ministers, including 23 cabinet ministers, will take the oath Monday evening. Modi confirmed Sunday that his cabinet of ministers will be smaller than the previous one, formed by the Congress-led UPA government, which had 70 ministers.
“Keeping our commitment to 'Minimum Government, Maximum Governance' we have made an unprecedented & positive change in Ministry formation,” Modi wrote on his Twitter account Sunday.
Meanwhile, two sources in the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, said, according to media reports, that Arun Jaitley, one of the top corporate lawyers in the country and who served as commerce minister in the previous BJP administration, will likely be the finance minister, adding that he was the only one on the list of cabinet members prepared by Modi who had the credentials to be the finance minister. Sources also reportedly said that the corporate affairs ministry could be merged with the finance ministry.
BJP president Rajnath Singh will most likely head the home ministry and will also be responsible for internal security, while it was not clear who would head the defense ministry, reports said.
This is a step towards Smart Governance & will give us added strength to fulfil aspirations of the people http://t.co/4FRuKRF9Y1
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 25, 2014
In a volatile day in the stock markets, the benchmark BSE Sensex initially climbed 250 points and then plummeted about 400 points, before ending the day about 23 points, or 0.1 percent, up. The Indian rupee was trading at 58.82 to the dollar in late-afternoon trade.