January 19, 2011 12:22:30 pm
No minister was dropped but there were major changes in portfolios in the reshuffle of the Union Cabinet on Wednesday which saw S Jaipal Reddy getting Petroleum,Praful Patel moving to Heavy Industries,Kamal Nath to Urban Development and Murli Deora to Corporate Affairs.
The exercise,described as “minor” by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,who promised a “more expansive exercise” after the budget session of Parliament starting next month,saw the elevation of three Ministers of State — Praful Patel,Shriprakash Jaiswal and Salman Khursheed — to Cabinet rank and induction of three new faces — Beni Prasad Verma,Ashwani Kumar and K C Venugopal — as Ministers of State. Kumar made a reentry into the government having been a minister in UPA-I.
Verma,who was Cabinet Minister in the United Front government of 1996,got the rank of MoS Independent Charge in today’s exercise which left untouched incumbents of the ‘big four’ — Finance,Home,Defence and External Affairs and key ministries of Commerce and Railways.
The six were administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Pratibha Patel at a brief ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presence of Vice President Hamid Ansari,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi,Cabinet Ministers and a number of other dignitaries.
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.
No minister was dropped in the reshuffle which was described by the Prime Minister as “minor”. He told reporters after the swearing in ceremony that a “more expansive exercise” would be undertaken after the Budget Session of Parliament.
Murli Deora was divested of the Petroleum and Natural Gas portfolio and shifted to Corporate Affairs.
Reddy has been shifted from Urban Development Ministry,which has now been given to Kamal Nath,whose portfolio of Road Transport and Highways has been given to C P Joshi.
Though Praful Patel,NCP,has been elevated to Cabinet rank,he has been shifted from Civil Aviation to Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises while Khursheed has been moved from Corporate Affairs to Water Resources.
Jaiswal has retained Coal while he moves up to Cabinet.
The reshuffle was restricted to Congress except NCP whose supremo Sharad Pawar also shed Consumer Affairs,Food and Public Distribution.
Prof K V Thomas,who was MoS Consumer Affairs,Food and Public Distribution has been elevated in the same department as MoS with Independent Charge.
Ajay Maken,who was MoS Home Affairs,now gets Youth Affairs and Sports as MoS Independent Charge while Beni Prasad Verma gets Steel.
Of the new inductions,Ashwani Kumar makes a comeback to the government as Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs,Planning,Sciene and Technology and Earth Sciences. The other new entrant,K C Venugopal gets Power as MoS.
In today’s exercise,the Prime Minister has made a rejig of portfolios both at the Cabinet and Ministers of State level.
M S Gill,who had come under attack over the mess in Commonwealth Games preparations,was shifted from Sports and Youth Affairs to Statistics and Programme Implementation.
Himachal Pradesh Congress veteran Virbhadra Singh has been shifted from Steel to Micro,Small and Medium Enterprises while Vilasrao Deshmukh has been moved to Rural Development from Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. Deshmukh also gets additional charge of Panchayati Raj.
Kamal Nath has been shifted from Road and Transport to Urban Development while Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi got additional charge of Civil Aviation.
Kapil Sibal,who was given Telecom after the exit of A Raja retains both Telecom and HRD. He shed Science and Technology and Earth Sciences in favour of Pawan Kumar Bansal who also retains Parliamentary Affairs.
B K Handique was divested of Mines portfolio and left with Development of Northeastern Region while C P Joshi was moved from Rural Development to Road Transport and Highways.
Selja lost Tourism portfolio but got additional charge of Culture Ministry while keeping Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
Subodh Kant Sahay was moved from Food Processing Industries and given Tourism.
Dinsha Patel,Minister of State with Independent Charge,has been moved from Micro,Small and Medium Enterprises to Mines.
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