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India's Modi Expands Cabinet into One of Biggest in Recent Years

FILE - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during an event on financial inclusion in Mumbai, April 2, 2015.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inducted 19 new ministers into his Cabinet on Tuesday to bolster his two-year-administration but drew criticism that he was backtracking on a promise of lean government.

The ministers, announced by the government, were sworn-in at a ceremony at the presidential palace but their portfolios were not immediately announced.

A top government source told Reuters Modi had dropped five of cabinet colleagues. A formal announcement on the changes was expected later on Tuesday.

With the expansion, the size of Modi's Cabinet has swelled to 78 — one of the biggest in years and a far cry from Modi's 2014 election promise of "minimum government and maximum governance."

"If this was a reform-minded government, you would be reducing the numbers of people and portfolios, shedding ministries," said Manoj Joshi, a political expert at Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

"What you can read from this is that it is not particularly efficient or concerned about governance," Joshi said, referring to Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Modi swept to power in May 2014 on a promise of jobs and growth. However, critics have questioned his government's performance and political analysts say the ruling party suffers from a shortage of experienced members.

A number of new ministers hail from India's backward castes, members of which are widely expected to play a critical role in an election in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh next year. That state election is likely to have a bearing on Modi's bid to retain power in a general election, due by 2019.

"His eyes are set on his re-election in 2019," said Neerja Chowdhury, an independent political analyst. "He has given representation to the social groups that voted for him in the last general election."