Union minister and prominent Muslim face, in Modi’s cabinet Najma Heptulla has resigned on Tuesday (12th July), a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made big cabinet changes. Dr Heptulla was above 75 years in age, the ceiling for holding a cabinet post according to the unwritten rules of the party. Minister of State for Heavy Industries G M Siddeshwara has also put his papers.
Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had allowed a graceful exit to Dr Heptulla, who was out of the country on July 5, when five other ministers had to submit their resignations. In a statement, Dr Heptulla said she had resigned for personal reasons, and added, "I will always be available for any responsibility given to me in future”.
Five other ministers were dropped during the huge reshuffle of July 5, during which PM Modi had inducted 19 new minsters. At the time, the Prime Minister had swapped a series of key portfolios in his cabinet. The biggest change was Smriti Irani leaving the Education Ministry to Prakash Javadekar, the sole member of the government to have been promoted to the cabinet. The only member above 75 in the Modi’s cabinet now is Kalraj Mishra. According to sources, he a powerful Brahmin face from Uttar Pradesh is perhaps continuing in view of the next year's assembly elections in the state.
With recent resignations, the council of ministers now has 76 ministers against the permissible limit of 82.
Dr. Najma Heptulla is a five time member of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Indian parliament, between 1986 and 2012, and Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha for sixteen years. She also contested the 13th vice-presidential election held in August 2007 but lost to Hamid Ansari by 233 votes. She is a grand-niece of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a prominent Indian freedom fighter and also a second cousin to actor Aamir Khan.