By Emily Schmall
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s newly sworn-in Prime Minister Narendra Modi named a Cabinet on Friday, handing the powerful home affairs portfolio to the president of his Hindu nationalist party credited with delivering him a thunderous reelection and appointing a former diplomat to signal the government’s focus on foreign policy.
Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, a Hindu nationalist hard-liner who on the campaign trail referred to Muslim migrants from neighboring Bangladesh as “termites” and pledged to pass a controversial citizens registry, was named home minister, one of 24 Cabinet-level posts allocated by the prime minister’s office, India’s press information bureau said.
Shah, who served in the same role in Gujarat when Modi was the western state’s chief minister, a role akin to governor, will be in a key position to redraw India’s political map according to the BJP’s Hindu-first agenda, said political commentator Arati Jerath, who frequently writes opinion pieces for Indian newspapers.
“Whether it is Kashmir, or terrorism, or pushing through the citizens registry against the resistance in India’s northeast, Shah is very tough and he won’t hesitate to defy conventions or norms to achieve his goal,” she said.