A blend of age and youth, says PM

Sonia Gandhi sends perform or perish message to Congress ministers

He said that ‘talent and several other factors’ had played key role in the composition of the Union Council of Ministers – a process that took more than a week to be completed. Singh was talking to media-persons after the swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday. Singh said the delay was caused by his and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s desire to pick up the right persons. “We wanted to do a thorough exercise, looking at experience and availability of talent.”
Singh and Gandhi had several rounds of discussion over the past week to decide on the composition of the Council of Ministers. And, as the process came to an end on Thursday, the leadership’s message to the new ministers – particularly to the 60 Congress ministers – was loud and clear: “perform or perish”.
Singh was sworn in as the prime minister along with 19 other Cabinet ministers on 22 May. With 59 more being inducted on Thursday, the strength of the Council of Minister went up to 79 – just three short of the constitutional limit of 82. Singh had recently indicated that the Congress-led UPA had to be more efficient and deliver more to the people after it had won a clear mandate.
Singh said that the government’s priorities for the first 100 days of its tenure would be spelt out in the President’s Address to the joint session of both the Houses of Parliament on June four. Senior Congress leaders H R Bharadwaj, Sis Ram Ola, Saifuddin Soz and Arjun Singh have been dropped from the new Council of Ministers. Bharadwaj and Singh – both known to be loyal to the first family of the Congress – held the law and human resource development portfolio in the last cabinet of Singh.
Bharadwaj on Thursday said that he was not disappointed. Singh had spoken to him and explained why he could not be accommodated in the new cabinet. “I assured him of my loyalty and my devotion to my party’s work,” said the former law minister. But the loyalists like Bhardwaj perhaps need not give up hope yet. Singh told scribes that though some senior leaders could not be included in the Council of Ministers, they could be suitably rehabilitated.
“There are other avenues to use expertise of senior leaders,” he said.

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