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17 Indian ministers take office in major Cabinet revamp

Publication Date : 29-10-2012


In a major revamp of the Union Cabinet that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described as “probably the last reshuffle”, 17 new ministers were inducted and several portfolios changed yesterday.

The exercise appeared aimed at countering critics of the government’s alleged “policy paralysis” by bringing in a mix of experience and youth but the opposition was quick to dismiss it as “old wine in new bottles”.

Singh gave the external affairs portfolio to Salman Khurshid and the petroleum portfolio to Veerappa Moily. Three young ministers of state, considered close to Rahul Gandhi, were upgraded and given independent charge of their ministries. Jyotiraditya Scindia got power, Sachin Pilot for corporate affairs and Jitendra Singh for youth affairs and sports.

The exit of the Trinamul Congress from the government has been compensated with the inclusion of three new Congress ministers of state from Bengal, A H Khan Chowdhury,  Deepa Das Munshi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.  

Pawan Kumar Bansal has been shifted from water resources to railways and S Jaipal Reddy moved from the high profile petroleum to science and technology and earth sciences.

Former Rajya Sabha deputy chairman and veteran leader from Karnataka K Rahman Khan made a re-entry into the government as minority affairs minister, a portfolio held by Khurshid. 

Surprisingly, Khurshid, who also held the portfolio of law, got the high-profile external affairs ministry despite the controversy surrounding him over allegations of financial bungling by a trust run by him and his wife.

Dinsha Patel was promoted as Cabinet minister in the mines ministry in the reshuffle and expansion that raised the strength of the Council of Ministers to 78 from 67.

Speaking to reporters later, the prime minister expressed disappointment over Rahul Gandhi not joining the government but said that he (Rahul) kept away as he wanted to strengthen the party, notwithstanding his (PM’s) request to become a minister.

The exercise was confined to the Congress barring the inclusion of Tariq Anwar of the NCP as a minister of state instead of Agatha Sangma who resigned yesterday.

Twenty-two ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, the prime minister, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Cabinet Ministers and leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj.

With several ministers having more than one portfolio and the vacancies in the wake of the Trinamul Congress withdrawing from the government, the prime minister took away portfolios from ministers holding more than one charge and filled in the vacancies created by the exit of six Trinamul ministers, the death of Vilasrao Deshmukh and the resignations of eight ministers including S M Krishna, Virbhadra Singh, Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik and Subodh Kant Sahai. 

Chiranjeevi has been made minister of state with independent charge in the ministry of tourism while Manish Tewari has been given information and broadcasting, a portfolio held by Soni who has resigned.

Shashi Tharoor, who had to quit as minister of state for external affairs in April 2010 in the wake of allegations of wrongdoing in buying stakes in an IPL team, has made a comeback as minister of state for HRD.

Telecom minister Kapil Sibal has shed the HRD portfolio which has been handed over to M M Pallam Raju, who has been promoted in the reshuffle. Earlier, Raju was minister of state for defence.

Another significant promotion is that of Ashwani Kumar who has been upgraded to Cabinet rank and given charge of the law ministry earlier held by Khurshid.

Yet another promotion has been made in the case of Harish Rawat, who was overlooked for the post of Chief Minister of Uttarakhand earlier this year and had revolted. From minister of state for agriculture, he has now been made the Cabinet minister for water resources.

The other promotions are Dinsha Patel from minister of state to Cabinet minister in the mines ministry and Ajay Maken, who has been shifted from sports to the Cabinet portfolio of housing and urban poverty alleviation.

Veteran Congress leader and minister of state K H Muniyappa has been shifted from Railways to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Bharatsinh Solanki from Railways to Drinking Water and Sanitation with Independent charge.

The other Ministers of State who have been shifted are D Purandeswari (from HRD to Commerce and Industry), Jitin Prasada (from Road Transport to Defence and HRD), S Jagathrakshakan (from I&B to New and Renewable Energy), K C Venugopal (from Power to Civil Aviation) and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajiv Shukla who gets additional charge of Planning.

MoS External Affairs E Ahamed has been relieved of the additional charge of HRD while R P N Singh has been shifted from Petroleum to Home.

Cabinet Minister Vayalar Ravi retains Overseas Indian Affairs, Kapil Sibal Communications and IT, Jairam Ramesh Rural Development while Kumai Selja has been shifted from HUPA to Social Justice and Empowerment. The new faces who have been inducted as MoS are K Suresh (Labour and Employment), Tariq Anwar (Agriculture and Food Processing Industries), K J Suryaprakash Reddy (Railways), Ranee Narah (Tribal Affairs), Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (Railways), A H Khan Chowdhry (Health and Family Welfare), S Satyanarayana (Road Transport and Highways), Ninong Ering (Minority Affairs), Deepa Dasmunsi (Urban Development), P Balram Naik (Social Justice and Empowerment), K Kruparani (Communications and IT) and Lalchand Kataria (Defence).

Asked what was the message from today’s exercise, the prime minister said it is a combination of youth, experience and relevance of portfolios. Asked about the road ahead with just over a year to go for Lok Sabha scheduled for 2014, Singh said it “was full of challenges”.

To a question about the proposal to move some people from government to party, he said: “The party also needs men and women of experience to strengthen it. They will be equally productive in the party.” 


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