Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has sacked 12 ministers, including health minister in a bid to reshuffle the cabinet amid coronavirus pandemic that hit India badly in recent month.
Minister of Law and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad, known for sharp exchanges with Twitter bosses recently, was also sacked and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who stood in as the official spokesman, was dropped.
As 43 ministers took oath, 12 were removed. The reshuffle is believed to be linked to crucial elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, along with three other states, that go to polls next year. Mr Modi now has 77 ministers, nearly half of them new. Anurag Thakur and Hardeep Puri are among 15 new cabinet ministers.
Sarbananda Sonowal, Jyotiraditya Scindia, who switched over from the Congress, Narayan Rane, Bhupender Yadav and Ashwini Vaishnaw were also sworn in as cabinet ministers.
A veteran BJP leader, Mr Prasad, like Mr Javadekar, is among the few who were ministers even in the previous BJP government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Mr Prasad’s last few months in the IT ministry were taken up by a legal fight with social media giants including Twitter and Facebook, especially a relentless back-and-forth with Twitter over new IT rules. All three were seen at the oath ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday evening.