Modi 2.0 Cabinet: Nirmala Sitharaman, the trusted lieutenant of the PM

Nirmala Sitharaman was administered the oath of office by President Ram Nath Kovind at the swearing-in of the new government at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.

Nirmala Sitharaman was the Defence Minister in the first Modi administration. She was made a Minister of State in the Narendra Modi Cabinet in 2014 and given the portfolio of commerce and industry minister with independent charge.

One of the ministers whom Modi seems to trust, Sitharaman is the second woman to hold the Defence portfolio after Indira Gandhi. Though Sitharaman did not make inroads in overhauling defence procurement, she was at the helm of affairs when the Balakot strikes were carried out by the Indian Air Force, and also defended the government in Lok Sabha against allegations of corruption by the Opposition in the Rafale aircraft deal signed between India and France. Sitharaman's firefighting, in public and Parliament, assumes significance since the Opposition has been using alleged corruption in the Rafale deal as a poll plank. Sitharaman was also a member of the committee tasked with preparing the BJP's manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections.

Considered a rational, discreet politician, Sitharaman is also being touted for the ministry of external affairs in some circles. 

Sitharaman worked in the corporate sector after a masters degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Subsequently, she moved to London with her husband and joined the British Broadcasting Corporation. She returned to India in the 1990s and became an educationist. Later, she founded the Pranava school in Hyderabad. She was nominated to the National Commission for Women during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.  

Sitharaman joined the BJP in 2008. She was made a spokesperson for the party the next year. In 2014, she became a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha on a BJP ticket.

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