A risk-averse reshuffle

A risk-averse reshuffle

A risk-averse reshuffle

The three ministers who have been promoted to Cabinet rank are: Salman Khursheed, who has been given the Water Resources and Minority Affairs portfolio, Praful Patel, who gets charge of  Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises as against his earlier Civil Aviation ministry and Sriprakash Jaiswal, who will continue to look after Coal.
Among the new faces, Beni Prasad Verma from Uttar Pradesh has been made Minister of State (Independent charge) and given Steel, K C Venugopal of Kerala has been made MoS (Power) and Ashwini Kumar (MoS) has been given charge of Planning and Parliamentary Affairs and Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.
The ministers of state who have been promoted and given independent charge are Delhi’s Ajay Maken, who has been given Youth Affairs and Sports and Kerala’s K V Thomas who has been made in charge of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
With the fresh induction, the strength of the Union council of ministers has gone up to 81, of which 35 are of Cabinet rank, six are MoS with independent charge and the rest ministers of state. The Cabinet reshuffle was an opportunity on the part of the Manmohan Singh government to refurbish its image, which was battered in the wake of a series of financial scandals, and induct fresh faces and at the same time weed out non-performers and those against whom there are questions of probity. The latest reshuffle indicates that none of that happened.

Significant among those whose portfolios have been changed are S Jaipal Reddy who has moved to Petroleum and Natural Gas, which was held by Murli Deora, who has been shifted to Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Reddy was earlier Urban Development Minister.

Pawar retains agriculture
Sharad Pawar continues to retain Agriculture, but has been divested of Food and Consumer Affairs, but Food Processing has been added to his present responsibilities.
Three ministers, who were widely expected to be dropped, have instead been given weightier ministries. Vilasrao Deshmukh has been shifted from Heavy Industries to Rural Development with the additional charge of Panchayati Raj. C P Joshi has been given Road Transport and Highways as against his earlier portfolio of Rural Development.

Virbhadra Singh was divested of Steel but given Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises while B K Handique has been taken out of Mines and made in charge of Development of North-Eastern Region. M S Gill, whose work as Sports minister came under the scanner during Commonwealth Games, gets the lighter portfolio of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

As against expectations, Kapil Sibal will continue with Human Resource Development and Telecom, but his other portfolio of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences has been allotted to Pawan Bansal, who also retains Parliamentary Affairs.

In other significant changes, while Kamal Nath has been moved to Urban Development from Highways, Vayalar Ravi has been made in charge of Civil Aviation besides Overseas Indian Affairs.

Shelja, who was handling Tourism, has been moved to Culture, though she continues to retain Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. Subodh Kant Sahay will be the new Tourism minister and Gujarat’s Dinsha Patel given charge of Mines.

Among the ministers of state, Puducherry’s V Narayanasamy gets the coveted post in the Prime Minister’s Office, vacated by Prithviraj Chavan, who was recently moved as Maharashtra chief minister.

Narayanasamy also continues to hold Parliamentary Affairs and Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. Kerala’s E Ahamed has been shifted as MoS Railways to Minister of State External Affairs in place of his state’s Shashi Tharoor.

Other ministers of state whose portfolios were changed include Harish Rawat (Agriculture and Food Processing Industries), Gurudas Kamat (Home Affairs), A Sai Prathap (Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises), Bharatsinh Solanki (Railways), Jitin Prasada (Road Transport and Highways), Mahadev S Khandela (Tribal Affairs), R P N Singh (Petroleum and Natural Gas and Corporate Affairs), Tusharbhai Chaudhary (Road Transport and Highways), Arun Yadav (Agriculture and Food Processing Industries), Pratik Prakashbapu Patil (Coal) and Vincent Pala (Water Resources and Minority Affairs).