Finance Minister and leader of the house in Rajya Sabh Arun Jaitley will once again take additional charge as the Defence Minister after Manohar Parrikar resigned from the post to take over as the Chief Minister of Goa.
The 64-year-old Jaitley is also the Minister of Corporate Affairs and is considered to be among the cabinet minsters close to PM Modi. Jaitley, in fact, was appointed defence minister in 2014 when the Modi government came into power.
This is the second time that Jaitley is holding the additional portfolio of Defence Ministry during the present NDA government.He was incharge of the ministry earlier from May 26 to November 9 in 2014.
Rashtrapati Bhavan said President Pranab Mukherjee had accepted Mr Parrikar's resignation with immediate effect. "Further as advised by the Prime Minister, the President has directed that Shri Arun Jaitley, Cabinet Minister, shall be assigned the charge of the Ministry of Defence, in addition to his existing portfolios," a statement from President Mukherjee's office said.
The BJP, which failed to cross the half-way mark in the assembly polls with its tally dipping to 13 from 21, pulled off a coup on Sunday by enlisting the support of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and two Independents, to reach the magic figure of 21 in the 40-member house.
Governor Mridula Sinha invited Parrikar to form the next government in the coastal state last night after he submitted a letter of support of 21 legislators.
Parrikar will be swearing in as the Chief Minister of Goa on Tuesday heading the BJP-led ministry which has the support of regional outfits and Independents. "I have tendered my resignation as Defence Minister and sent it to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)” Parrikar saidI.
"I will be taking the oath tomorrow evening along with the cabinet ministers,” he added. Asked how many ministers would be sworn in, Parrikar said, "The decision on the number of ministers and other issues are being currently worked out. Once the cabinet is finalised, we will inform the media.”