Congress drubs PM's stand on future reshuffles

Says govt and sulking ministers have to work out the issues


Sweta Ranjan | July 13, 2011

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Congress on Wednesday brushed aside prime minister Manmohan Singh's cotention that there will be no further cabinet reshuffles from now to the general elections in 2014.

Party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the prime minister actually meant that there would be "hopefully" be no "major reshuffle" exercises before the polls. With UPA partner DMK not accorded any berth in Tuesday's rejig, the prime minister had said that two berths had been kept vacant for filling up in the near future. But he had stated that there would be no further expanisons or reshuffle.

On the issue of the sulking ministers Srikant Jena, veerappa Moily and Gurudas Kamat (who resigned from his ministerial posts soon after the rejig was announced), Singhvi said that the portfolio distribution was the prime minister's prerogative and that it was upto the disgruntled individuals to sort their issues with the government.

He noted that various factors were considered before allocating ministries and not all of them were measurable or quantifiable.

Kamat, who was made the minister of state (independent charge) for drinking water and sanitation, quit yesterday, reportedly miffed at being passed over for cabinet appointment. Jena, who was a union cabinet minister in the United Front governments of 1996, was also unhappy with being kept a minister of state since 2009.

Moily, shifted from the law ministry to corporate affairs, saw himself more as a scapegoat for the "administrative ministries" and said as much.

Both Jena and he, however, attended the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday and said that they would discharge their duty in the best possible manner, reposing faith in the prime minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Asked to comment on the criticism from various quarters on the rejig being a damp squib, the Congress spokesperson said that it was not correct to deem a change in the weightier ministries, viz. finance, external affairs, home and defence alone as a "major exercise".



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