State rewarded additional cabinet berth

State rewarded additional cabinet berth

Apparently with an eye on the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, the Congress rewarded Karnataka in the latest cabinet reshuffle, inducting veteran Oscar Fernandes into the cabinet with the plum portfolio of Road Transport and National Highways, while also handing party loyalist Mallikarjun Kharge the coveted Railways portfolio.

With Oscar’s induction, the state now has four cabinet ministers –Fernandes, Kharge, Petroleum Minister Verappa Moily and Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan—and one Minister of State (independent charge) for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises K H Muniyappa.

A trusted aid of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Oscar returns to the cabinet after holding key positions including the party’s head of central election committee.

A five-term Lok Sabha MP from Udupi in Karnataka, Fernandes was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Congress after he lost the 1999 Lok Sabha elections.

He is now into his third term in the Upper House.

Known as a man for all seasons, he was a Union Minister from 2004–2009, holding a number of portfolios like Statistics and Programme Implementation, Overseas Indian Affairs, Youth and Sports Affairs and Labour and Employment.

Also a close confidant of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, Fernandes was well liked among party colleagues and is known to burn the midnight oil in whichever job he is trusted with.
Son of a school teacher, Fernandes was twice the KPCC president. He is also an exponent of  Kuchipudi and Yakshagana.

The new minister of state for finance Jesudas Seelam, a two-time Rajya Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh, is a retired IAS officer of the Karnataka cadre. Native of Pusluru in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, Seelam belongs to 1984 batch of IAS.

He served in various posts in Karnataka as a civil servant including deputy commissioner of Mandya, deputy resident commissioner of Karnataka Bhavan, commissioner Social Welfare and Minority Welfare in Karnataka Government, private secretary to Union minister for Railways Jaffer Sharif.

He took voluntary retirement from the service in 1999 and joined the Congress.

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