Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday, 8 July, conducted a virtual meeting with the new Union Cabinet, his first since the revamped Council of Ministers was announced on Wednesday, 7 July.
Following the meet with Cabinet, PM Modi also chaired a meeting with the Council of Ministers on Thursday evening, at which he reportedly issued warnings about the COVID situation in the country.
Shortly after the first meeting, Cabinet ministers announced a slew of decisions, including a Rs 23,000 crore COVID package, and that Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) will continue.
Later in the evening, PM Modi tweeted about the COVID package and the decisions pertaining to agriculture taken at the meeting.
Meanwhile, in the Council of Ministers meeting, PM Modi spoke about how pictures had been emerging over the last few days of crowded places and people roaming about without masks or social distancing, ANI reported, quoting sources.
PM Modi also reportedly added that at this time, there should be no carelessness or complacency, adding that mistakes would have far-reaching impacts and weaken the fight to overcome COVID-19.
"With the numbers being lesser than what they were in recent months, people may want to venture out. However, everyone must remember that the threat of COVID-19 is far from over. Many other nations are seeing a surge in infections. The virus is also mutating," PM Modi said at the meeting, according to ANI.
PM Modi also reportedly expressed concern at the persistently high number of cases being reported from Maharashtra and Kerala.
He further stressed that the job of ministers should be to request people to keep taking all possible precautions so that India is able to move beyond the pandemic, even as the country continues to fight the virus.
Seek Guidance From Predecessors: PM Modi to New Ministers
At the virtual meeting of the new Cabinet, Prime Minister Modi advised the newly-inducted ministers to meet with their predecessors and seek guidance from them, government sources said, as per an NDTV report.
"PM Modi mentioned the ministers who were dropped in the meeting of the council of ministers and praised them," sources said.
Twelve ministers, including Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and IT Minister RS Prasad, had resigned ahead of the Cabinet overhaul on Wednesday.
The new ministers were also counselled to avoid sharing any unnecessary statements with the media, sources said, according to an NDTV report.
PM Modi's New Cabinet
PM Modi’s new Cabinet, overhauled on Wednesday, includes 30 ministers, while the council has a total of 77 ministers.
In the 77-member strong Council of Ministers, there are 30 Cabinet ministers, two ministers of state with independent charge, and 45 ministers of state.
After the mega overhaul of the Council of Ministers, the newly-allocated portfolios were announced, with Ashwini Vaishnaw being allocated the Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and Jyotiraditya Scindia getting charge of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The newly-inducted, including several first-time MPs, such as Bharati Pawar, Bishweswar Tudu, Shantanu Thakur, among others, and senior leaders like Narayan Rane, Sarbananda Sonowal, and Jyotiraditya Scindia, were all welcomed with congratulatory messages on social media.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote, “We will continue working to fulfil the aspirations of people and build a strong and prosperous India.”
(With inputs from ANI.)