From the South in Modi cabinet: HD Kumaraswamy, Suresh Gopi, Nirmala Sitharaman among ministers sworn-in

From firebrand leaders to community representatives to currently the richest MP, South India has a healthy representation in the new Cabinet.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 10, 2024 | 12:12 AM Updated Jun 10, 2024 | 8:15 AM

Cabinet Ministers from South India in Modi government

Narendra Modi took oath as the prime minister for a third term on Sunday, 9 June. Meanwhile, 30 Cabinet ministers and 41 ministers of state were also sworn in.

After Modi, BJP national president JP Nadda, senior leaders including Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, and Prahlad Joshi took oath as Cabinet ministers.

Here’s a look at leaders from South India who took oath as Cabinet ministers on Sunday.

Pralhad Joshi — RSS loyalist & five-time MP

A die-hard RSS loyalist and long-time BJP worker, Pralhad Joshi is a fifth-time member of Parliament from the saffron party’s bastion of Dharwad in Karnataka.

Said to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leader Amit Shah, he held portfolios of Coal, Mines, and Parliamentary Affairs in the previous Cabinet.

As parliamentary affairs minister, he played a key role in the functioning of both the Houses and in the passing of many crucial bills of national importance during the 17th Lok Sabha.

He spearheaded a series of initiatives and policy interventions which led to “unlocking the true potential” of the coal and mining sector towards self-reliance, a senior BJP leader said.

Joshi, who also served as BJP Karnataka president, came to the limelight as the “Rastradwaja Horata Samiti Sanchalak” when the party organised a movement to hoist the Tricolour at Idgah Maidan in Hubballi, which created a huge law-and-order situation, and also the “Save Kashmir Movement” in the early 1990s.

Related: Amit Shah, Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Piyush Goyal among 30 Cabinet ministers of Modi government

Ram Mohan Naidu, a blend of loyalty to TDP and commitment to public service

From a promising young leader to the “youngest-ever Central Cabinet minister’, Ram Mohan Naidu Kinjarapu has had a journey that exemplifies a blend of loyalty to his party — TDP — and an unflinching commitment to public service.

He was sworn in as a Cabinet minister in the new cabinet of NDA on Sunday.

At the young age of 37, K Ram Mohan Naidu is an MP from Srikakulam Lok Sabha constituency.

He is the son of late TDP leader K Yerran Naidu, who was a Union minister in the United Front government in 1996, and died in an accident more than a decade ago.

Ram Mohan Naidu initially entered Parliament in 2014 from Srikakulam and repeated this feat for the third time in 2024 from the same constituency.

HD Kumaraswamy, twice CM to now Union minister

Two-time Karnataka chief minister and five-time MLA, JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy has once again demonstrated his political acumen by bagging a seat in the Union Council of Ministers, despite his party joining the BJP-led NDA just last year.

Since the time of its founding in 1999, JD(S) has never formed a government on its own in Karnataka.

However, it has been in power twice in coalition with both national parties despite being a junior partner. Kumaraswamy was the chief minister on both occasions.

The first was for 20 months with BJP — from February 2006 — and then for 14 months with Congress after the May 2018 Assembly polls.

The son of JD(S) patriarch and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, he has now managed to secure a Cabinet berth by allying with BJP at a time when his party was seen to be fighting a “battle for survival”.

The 64-year-old Vokkaliga leader has made no secret of his desire to become the next agriculture minister.

Related: JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy’s political profile

Firebrand Bandi Sanjay — from RSS to Union Cabinet

Bandi Sanjay Kumar, who took oath as a minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet on Sunday, weathered political storms and intra-party bickering before he could successfully establish himself as a firebrand BJP leader in Telangana.

The foundation for his political rise could be traced to his days of student politics in ABVP, the student wing of the RSS, with which he was associated since childhood.

With his grooming in right-wing outfits providing him a clear ideological launchpad and direction, he gradually became popular as an aggressive saffron leader.

Kumar’s “take the bull by the horns” style ensured victory in a considerable number of seats in the Hyderabad civic polls during the previous BRS regime, which gave a clear signal that the saffron party could be an alternative to the then-ruling party.

Now the BJP national general secretary, Kumar retained the Karimnagar Lok Sabha constituency in Telangana with a massive margin of over 2.25 lakh votes in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls.

Richest MP in Lok Sabha, Pemmasani secures ministerial berth

With family assets at over 5,700 crore, Pemmasani Chandra Sekhar is the richest MP in the current Lok Sabha,

He hails from the small village of Burripalem in Andhra Pradesh, and was sworn in as a minister of state.

A medical doctor, he stuck with TDP through thick and thin and remained in the good books of party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu.

No wonder, then, that he has now secured a ministerial berth in the Union Cabinet.

Pemmasani defeated YSRCP’s Kilari Venkata Rosaiah by a margin of over 3.4 lakh votes.

Hailing from a rural area, he went on to become a teacher-physician at the Johns Hopkins University – Sinai Hospital and also established his own firm, UWorld (online learning and study resources platform).

‘He decided, I obeyed’: Suresh Gopi on ‘mass’ entry

He was trolled during the Lok Sabha poll campaign, but action hero Suresh Gopi rose to national stardom in cinema style on 4 June.

He won the Thrissur seat on a BJP ticket, scripting history for the saffron party in Kerala despite the tactics of his rivals.

Kerala has, as a state, been historically dominated by the Left and Congress, with BJP’s struggles there marked by numerous challenges since the Jan Sangh days

With Gopi’s win, this decades-long struggle of the saffron party in Kerala finally yielded fruit in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Gopi’s political career saw cinematic twists even after his victory, with his initial reluctance to accept a ministerial berth in the government.

He cited his commitment to the people of Thrissur and agreements he had signed for a couple of movies.

Related: From silver screen to Parliament, Suresh Gopi’s multi-faceted career

Firebrand Shobha Karandlaje — from RSS to Modi 3.0 govt

Shobha Karandlaje is an outspoken politician from the RSS background who does not mince words when it comes to contentious issues like religious extremism

A close confidante of Karnataka BJP strongman BS Yediyurappa, she has once again secured a place in the Union government.

A three-time Lok Sabha member, she was a surprise pick to the Union Council of Ministers during the rejig of the previous Modi government in 2021, and served as the Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.

Karandlaje, who is quite vocal on issues such as religious extremism and “love jihad”, is from the politically-influential Vokkaliga community in Karnataka.

She joined the RSS at a very early age and became a full-time volunteer at the Sangh Parivar.

Karandlaje’s political career began in 1996 in Udupi, as general secretary of Udupi District BJP Mahila Morcha, and later she served as the state secretary and general secretary of Mahila Morcha.

Nirmala Sitharaman: Feisty Defender of Modi govt 

Nirmala Sitharaman, who joined the likes of Arun Jaitley and Manmohan Singh by serving a full term as finance minister and is credited with carrying forward second-generation reforms, created a record by being the first woman to be sworn in as minister for the third consecutive term of the Modi government.

Being a fiery spokesperson of the BJP, she was inducted into the Cabinet when Narendra Modi became the prime minister of the NDA government in 2014.

As a staunch defender of the Modi government’s economic policies and executor, she created a record in 2017 when she was appointed as the first woman to be defence minister.

Prior to that, she was industry and commerce minister.

When her mentor Arun Jaitley took ill, Sitharaman was given the charge of the finance portfolio in the newly re-elected Modi government after the 2019 general elections, when BJP won its highest seats of 303.

Somanna gets a Central berth

BJP leader V Somanna, who reluctantly and unsuccessfully contested against Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the Assembly polls a year ago, is now part of the new Union Council of Ministers, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It seems to be a sweet turn of events for Somanna, who was reportedly sulking amid speculations about he allegedly planning to join Congress after being sidelined by BJP ahead of the 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections. The veteran leader, however, had denied it.

He won the Tumakuru Lok Sabha seat by a margin of 1,75,594 votes against Congress’ SP Muddahanumegowda in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

The Lingayat leader, who started as a member of BBMP in 1983-87, has grown politically steadily and has had his stint in all the three key political parties in the state — Janata Dal (erstwhile), Congress, and BJP.

(Edited by Neena. With PTI inputs)