Newly-inducted Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on her appointment, and stated that the presence of two women in the Cabinet Committee on Security, namely External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and she, itself sends out a strong message.
"I am thankful to Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shahji for entrusting me with this responsibility. With this, there are now two women on the Cabinet Committee on Security, that is, Sushma ji and myself. This itself sends out a strong message," Nirmala told ANI.
With regards to her appointment as the Defence Minister, an elated Sitharaman opined that it is undoubtedly a very big responsibility to be shouldered by her.
"The role given to me is both challenging and interesting. From here onwards, I will have to prove myself and perform to satisfy the expectations of those who assigned me for this role," she said.
Further, Sitharaman stated that she will take charge on September 6, after incumbent Defence Minister Arun Jaitley's return from Tokyo.
"I have had a word with the defence secretary and Arun Jaitley ji. I will take charge, most probably on September 6, after he returns from Japan, where he is visiting in the capacity of India's Defence Minister. I will speak in detail post taking charge," she said.
Earlier in the day, Sitharaman was appointed as the Defence Minister as the second woman to do so after late Indira Gandhi, and the first one to take charge as full time minister.
Sitharaman will take over from Arun Jaitley, who will retain his position as the Finance Minister.
Sitharaman has previously served as a Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs under the Ministry of Finance and the Minister for Commerce and Industry with independent charge.
An alumnus of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Sitharaman joined the BJP in 2006 as its national spokesperson, and Prime Minister Modi's ministry in 2014.
Sitharaman represents Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha.