After Urban Development Minister Mr M Venkaiah Naidu’s election as the Vice-President, the need was felt to give southern states a prominent place in the Cabinet. Ms Sitharaman, who is from Tamil Nadu and her husband hails from Andhra Pradesh, was eminently suited to fill the slot, indicating that maintaining regional balance was also a key factor. Along with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and External Affairs Minister Ms Sushma Swaraj, Ms Sitharaman will be a member of the powerful Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by the Prime Minister.
Mr Jaitley was holding additional charge of Defence Ministry since Manohar Parrikar returned to Goa as Chief Minister earlier in March after the Assembly polls in the coastal state. Apart from Ms Sitharaman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Dharmendra Pradhan, and Piyush Goyal, all holding Independent Charge as state ministers, were elevated to the Cabinet rank on the basis of their performance, taking the total to 27 of which six are women. This is the most in any Union Cabinet. There are 11 Ministers of State with independent charge and 37 Ministers of State. (UNI)