Harsh Vardhan, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Javadekar, Pokhriyal among ministers who quit ahead of Cabinet rejig

Ramesh Pokhriyal, Harsh Vardhan, Santosh Gangwar
Ramesh Pokhriyal, Harsh Vardhan, Santosh Gangwar

New Delhi: Four senior Union ministers – Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Javadekar, Harsh Vardhan, Ramesh Pokhriyal "Nishank" – were among 12 ministers who resigned on Wednesday ahead of the cabinet reshuffle in the evening.

Besides these four, Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar, Minister of State for Education Sanjay Dhotre, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Debasree Chaudhuri, Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria, Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Pratap Chandra Sarangi and Minister of State for Environment Babul Supriyo also resigned.

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot had resigned after he was made Governor of Karnataka on Tuesday.

President Ram Nath Kovind has accepted the resignations of 12 Union ministers, a Rashtrapati Bhavan Spokesperson said.

In all, six Cabinet Ministers, one Minister of State (Independent Charge) and five Ministers of State have resigned.

Law and IT minister Prasad's resignation comes amid a row between micro-blogging platform Twitter and the government over various issues, including compliance with the new IT rules.

The resignations come after Prasad and I&B minister Javadekar announced sweeping regulations for social media firms like Facebook and Twitter, OTT players as well as digital media.

Health Minister Vardhan, whose handling of the COVID-19 crisis had drawn flak from the opposition parties, resigned from the Union Council of Ministers, official sources said.

Vardhan, a doctor himself, had been in charge of the health ministry as well as the science and technology ministry as the COVID-19 pandemic broke and then India worked to develop vaccines.

However, his various comments in the middle of the crisis were slammed by many as insensitive and ignorant of the ground reality, even as he strongly defended the government's handling of the situation.

Vardhan had also hit out at the Opposition for its criticism of the government on the handling of the pandemic, often accusing former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi of politicising the pandemic crisis.

He had also replied to former prime minister Manmohan Singh's letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accused the Congress of spreading vaccine hesitancy.

Pokhriyal, who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 21, was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here in June again after developing post-COVID complications.

He has resigned from his post citing health reasons, sources said. The former Uttarakhand chief minister had taken charge as the HRD Minister in May 2019.

Dhotre, who represents the Akola Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra, was made the MoS for Education, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology in May 2019.

Chaudhuri submitted her resignation in the morning, one of her close aides said. She was elected to the Lok Sabha from West Bengal's Raiganj constituency in the 2019 general elections.

Asked whether he has resigned from the post of Labour Minister, Gangwar answered in the affirmative. "Yes, I have resigned," he told PTI.

His resignation comes weeks after Gangwar had complained to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath about the situation in his Bareilly constituency, saying officials don't take calls and government health centres send back patients for ''referrals'' from the district hospital.

Forty three new ministers took oath on Wednesday evening in the first reshuffle in the second term of the Narendra Modi government.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, Pashupati Kumar Paras, Bhupender Yadav, Anupriya Patel, Shobha Karandlaje, Meenakshi Lekhi, Ajay Bhatt, Anurag Thakur are some of the new faces in the BJP cabinet.

(With PTI inputs.)

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