Jaipal defends Manmohan on reshuffle

Revamp repercussions: Muniyappa, Rahman Khan, Tiwari assume charge of ministries

Amid speculation that he was shifted from the high-profile petroleum and natural gas ministry to science thanks to a corporate war, S Jaipal Reddy on Monday described it as a “fertile imagination of the media” and said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken him into confidence before effecting the change.

Reddy, who took over charge as minister for science and technology and earth science on Monday, told media: “the prime minister took me into confidence about my portfolio and that was enough for me… it has been my effort to be a faithful partyman and a truthful minister… my effort has always been that, it was my focus and will be, in future too…”

Known to be a man of integrity, Reddy was seen as a minister sticking to the rules and falling victim to a corporate war. He is known to have come in the way of regulatory battles on gas prices while saving the government huge amounts of money.

The 70-year old Reddy, who kept himself away from journalists all of Sunday and this morning, had to face a volley of questions from mediapersons for his being divested of the portfolio which he took over from Murli Deora in January, 2011.

He shot back: “All my life, I have taken my position on ideological issues, not on portfolios… I never haggled over portfolios. You are free to indulge in fertile imagination…I don’t want to comment on my earlier portfolios… honesty is not my monopoly…nobody can arrogate this virtue to himself….in a given situation, so many interpretations are given…”

The leader from Andhra Pradesh added: “the formation of Cabinet is the  exclusive privilege of the prime minister.. situations are never static, they are dynamic...you need to calibrate depending on the needs.”

Asked why he did not hand over charge to his successor M Veerappa Moily earlier in the day, he quipped: “I am not an officer to hand over charge. Murli Deora did not `hand over’ petroleum ministry to me… I did not even know that Moily is taking charge as minister in the morning.”

The former party spokesman later quipped: “ I was never happy when petroleum ministry was given to me. I am not unhappy now either…No minister is ever told about the reason and I think the prime minister should not give the reason for change in a portfolio.”

There were murmurs doing round that he was not seen to be actively articulating the government’s move on the controversial Telangana issue. For this, Reddy remarked: “I stick to the norms and forms of the ministry’s decisions. The UPA government has not taken any position on Telangana.”

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