Tuesday's reshuffle of the union council of ministers saw the rise and fall of Congress stalwarts as some junior ministers got cabinet ranks in UPAII's latest rejig while a few others were dropped as ministers.
Jairam Ramesh, who held the environment and forests portfolio as a minister of state (independent charge) was promoted to the cabinet, entrusted with the ministry of rural affairs. Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan will take his place as the new minister of environment and forests. Gurudas Kamat is now the minister of state (independent charge) of drinking water and sanitation. Railways was given back to UPA partner Trinamool Congress with Dinesh Trivedi, minister of state for health till this morning, accorded a cabinet rank. New faces in the cabinet include Beni Prasad Verma as minister of steel and V Kishore Chandra Deo as minister of tribal affairs and panchayati raj.
No changes, however, were made in the 'big four' cabinet ministries - home, finance, external affairs and defence.
Veerappa Moily and Salman Khurshid traded places with the former getting the ministry of corporate affairs and the latter being made the minister of law and justice with the additional charge of the minority affairs portfolio.
No DMK ministers were inducted after former textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran resigned earlier this month.
Amongst those who made way for new inductees are B K Handique, ceding the ministry of development of the north eastern region to Paban Singh Ghatowar, M S Gill, giving up the ministry of statistics and programme implementation to Srikant Jena. Vilasrao Deshmukh was shifted to the ministry of science and technology and the ministry of earth sciences. Kanti Lal Bhuria was dropped as the tribal affairs minister.
Union commerce minister Anand Sharma will now hold the additional charge of the textiles ministry with Maran's exit. Murli Deora also resigned as the corporate affairs minister, while his son Milind Deora has been appointed as the minister of state of telecommunication and information, filling up the seat vacated by Kamat. Rajiv Shukla has been made the minister of state for parliamentary affairs.
Sudip Bandhopadhyay of TMC has been given the seat vacated by his party colleague Trivedi in the health and family welfare ministry. E Ahmed was made the minister of state for both external affairs and human resource development.
V Narayanaswamy, meanwhile, has been made the minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions and prime minister's office. Harish Rawat has been made the minister of state of agriculture and food processing and parliamentary affairs.
Last reshuffle before 2014 polls: PM
In a surprise statement, prime minister Manmohan Singh said today's resuffle of his council of ministers is the last before the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 but two slots have been kept vacant for DMK as part of "coalition dharma".
Talking to reporters after the swearing-in of the 11 ministers at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Singh said the resuffle reflects a "balance necessary between various states, consideration of efficiency, consideration of continuity" in the government.
"As far as I am concerned this is the last reshuffle before we go to polls (in 2014)," he said, adding "This exercise is as comprehensive as possible."
Asked whether he anticipated problems after the resuffle because of some ministers being unhappy, Singh said, "there are bound to be problems when there is some redistribution of portfolios. We have taken into account the best interests of the country."
At the same time, he said two ministerial slots have been kept vacant for DMK. "It is part of our coalition dharma...I hope their decision will be coming soon," the prime minister said.
DMK, which lost two ministerial berths due to resignation of A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran in the wake of allegations against them in the 2G scam, is expected to decide on filling those slots during its general council meeting on July 23.
When pointed out that the government was facing problems and whether he was hopeful of overcoming these, Singh said, "definitely, there is no doubt."
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