[Dr Subhas Bhamre takes oath as minister on Tuesday July 05, 2016. (TV grab)]
New Delhi/Malegaon: Dhule Malegaon MP Dr Subhash Bhamre and Muslim face of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) MJ Akbar, a veteran journalist, on Tuesday sworn in as ministers along with 17 others by President Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The ministers took oath as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's major cabinet expansion ahead of assembly elections in crucial states.
Prime Minister Modi inducted 19 ministers - all new faces, including several Dalit and OBC leaders as well as from poll-bound states like UP.
Dr. Subhash Bhamre, a surgeon who represents Dhule-Malegaon parliamentary constituency in North Maharashtra is a first timer. He was earlier in the Shiv Sena, joined the BJP just before the 2014 Lok Sabha election and entered the parliament defeating Congress stalwart Amrish Patel.
This is the first time an MP from Dhule-Malegaon constituency has been inducted as a minister in the union cabinet.
Former Union Minister Gavit, who represented Nanurbar tribal district, has been more or less a regular in the government headed by the Congress party.
Veteran journalist MJ Akbar, who is the Muslim face of the BJP, was earlier in the Congress. He also joined the BJP just before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He was appointed as the party's spokesperson, and recently was elected to the Rajya Sabha as a BJP member.
With MJ Akbar joining as minister, Modi cabinet will have three Muslims. Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah and her deputy Mukhat Abbas Naqvi are the other two Muslims in the union cabinet.
Others who were inducted in the Modi government included Anupriya Patel, S S Ahluwalia, P P Chadudhary, C R Chaudhary, J Bhabhor, Purshotam Rupala Mansukhbhai Mandaviya, Mahendra Nath Padey, A M Dave, Rajen Gohain.
The portfolios will be assigned to the newly inducted ministers in due course.
Prakash Javadekar of Shiv Sena, who held the independent charge of environment, was the lone minister promoted to the cabinet rank while all new inductees took oath as ministers of state.
Today's exercise underlines BJP's attempts at wooing dalits and OBCs, whose votes would be crucial to its fortunes in key states like UP and Gujarat.
All barring Vijay Goel and Faggan Kulaste are new faces while a few have been ministers in BJP-ruled state governments.
Ajay Tamta, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Krishna Raj, Ramdas Athawale, Ramesh C Jigaginagi were among the Dalit MPs sworn in as ministers by President Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan.
While Patel and Athawale are BJP allies, all others are from BJP.
Among the 19 inductees, three MPs each from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh took oath while four from Rajasthan were also sworn in.
At least three ministers of state are likely to be dropped.