Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley takes charge of Defence Ministry

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday formally took charge of the Defence Ministry hours after Manohar Parrikar resigned to take over as the next chief minister of Goa.

Jaitley, who has Finance portfolio, has been given the additional charge of the Defence Ministry.

Earlier, a statement from the Rashtrapati Bhavan said that President Pranab Mukherjee had accepted the resignation of Manohar Parrikar from the Council of Ministers with immediate effect.

It added, “Arun Jaitley shall be assigned the charge of the Ministry of Defence, in addition to his existing portfolios.”

Parrikar resigned as the defence minister earlier on Monday.

“I have tendered my resignation as Defence Minister and sent it to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)” Parrikar had told PTI today.

Asked how many ministers would be sworn in, Parrikar had 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.”

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 yesterday 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.

Thirteen BJP MLA and other legislators who pledged support to the party met Governor Mridula Sinha last evening, who later invited Parrikar to form the government.

The BJP stole a march on the Congress which failed to muster the numbers despite emerging as the single-largest party with 17 seats.

The Congress was hoping to get the support of the GFP which has bagged three seats in its maiden bid at the hustings.

But by deft moves, coordinated by party veteran and Union minister Nitin Gadkari, the BJP succeeded in keeping the Congress at bay, winning over smaller parties and Independents, who were keen that Parrikar should lead the ministry.

Parrikar, 61, an engineer from IIT-Bombay, led the BJP in 2012 to victory and became the CM. He, however, was made the Defence Minister at the Centre in 2014 and was succeeded by Laxmikant Parsekar as the CM.

Parsekar was defeated in Mandrem constituency this time and also most of the ministers in his cabinet failed to win.

Parrikar, who graduated to the BJP from the RSS ranks, had also served as CM of the state from 2000 to 2002 and from 2002 to 2005.

Right from the start of the campaign this time, Parrikar was widely seen as the chief minister probable. He also extensively campaigned for the party in his home state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the campaign and before, lavished praises on Parrikar over his competence and decision-making capacity as the Defence Minister, especially in the context of the surgical strike on terror launch pads across the border in Jammu and Kashmir.