Kataria meets PM, gets Rural Development

In a reshuffle of the portfolios, Union Minister of State Lalchand Kataria, sulking over work allocation in Defence Ministry to him, was shifted to Rural Development Department soon after he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to seek a change of portfolio.

In two other changes, young MP Milind Deora, Minister of State (MoS) in Telecommunication and Information Technology Ministry, got the additional portfolio of Shipping in the same rank and Panabaka Laxmi, who was made MoS in Textile Ministry on Sunday, was reallocated Petroleum and Gas department.

Kataria had refused to take charge of the Defence Ministry from the last two days and official sources said he conveyed to Singh that since the other Minister of State Jitendra Singh also hailed from Rajasthan, like him, he would find it difficult to work in Defence Ministry.

The ‘real’ grouse

However, sources said that Kataria’s real grouse was that Jitendra Singh was tipped to get charge of defence production, while he would be left with only the NCC and the issues of ex- Servicemen to look after.

Official sources said the Prime Minister has agreed to look into his request for a change in portfolio.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique, released late night on Tuesday, said President Pranab Mukherjee, as advised by the Prime Minister, approved the latest round of portfolios reshuffle.

First-time inductee into the Union Council of Ministers, Kataria was sworn in along with 21 other union ministers on Sunday.

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