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70-member please-all Cabinet
Advani, George, Sinha retain portfolios;
Mamata gets Railways
Tribune News Service and UNI

NEW DELHI, Oct 13 — The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, was sworn-in Prime Minister for a third term today, a distinction he shares with two of his predecessors, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

Along with him, a 70-member National Democratic Alliance Ministry was sworn-in comprising 26 Cabinet Ministers, seven Ministers of State with Independent charge and 37 Ministers of State.

The two-tier ministry of Mr Vajpayee, but for the Telugu Desam Party, the Indian National Lok Dal, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Himachal Vikas Congress and some other smaller parties, has representations from all major NDA constituents.

As anticipated, Mr L.K. Advani retains Home, George Fernandes Defence, Yashwant Sinha Finance, Jaswant Singh External Affairs and Manohar Joshi Human Resource Development in the ministry.

Allocating the portfolios to his Council of Ministers, Mr Vajpayee has given Mamata Benarjee Railways, Mr Sharad Yadav Civil Aviation, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan Communication, Mr Nitto Kumar Surface Transport, Mr Ram Jethmalani Law, Justice and Company Affairs and Mr Murasoli Maran Commerce and Industry.

Mr Pramod Mahajan, who was holding the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in the previous Vajpayee government, has been shifted to the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources.

Mr Jagmohan, the lone elected member of Parliament from Delhi to find a berth in the Cabinet, will look after Urban Development, Mr Naveen Patnaik Mines and Minerals and Mr Juel Oram, a Tribal from Orissa has been entrusted the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Sunderlal Patwa gets Rural Development, Mr P R Kumaramangalam retains Power, Mr Ram Naik gets Petroleum and Natural Gas, hitherto held by K. Ramamurthy from Tamil Nadu who was defeated in the elections.

Mr T R Balu has been given Environment and Forests and Mr Ananth Kumar who was holding Civil Aviation, will now have Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports. Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Manohar Joshi has been given the charge of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.

Mr Arun Jaitley, who is not a member of either House of Parliament, replaces Mr Pramod Mahajan in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting with Independent charge.

Ms Vasundhara Raje, who has been assisting Mr Jaswant Singh in the Ministry of External Affairs, will now look after Small Scale, Agro and Rural Industries, in addition to this, Ms Raje will be assisting the Prime Minister in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension and the Departments of Atomic Energy and Space.

Mr Dilip Ray has been given independent charge of Steel, hitherto held by Mr Naveen Patnaik. Ms Maneka Gandhi continues with Social Justice and Empowerment while Ms Uma Bharti will devote her undivided attention to the promotion of Tourism.

Unallocated portfolios will be looked after by the Prime Minister. Mr Dilip Ray and Mr Santosh Gangwar will assist the Parliamentary Affairs Minister in addition to their charges.

Mr Advani, who has been single-handedly looking after the sensitive Home Ministry, will be assisted by Vidya Sagar Rao and Mr I D Swami, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha will have the services of V Dhananjay Kumar and Mr Balasaheb Vikhe Patil.

Mr Harin Pathak and Mr Bachi Singh Rawat will be the two Ministers of State for Defence.

Trinamool Congress leader Ajit Panja will be the Minister of State for External Affairs. Dr Murli Manohar Joshi will have Ms Sumitra Mahajan and Jaisingh Rao Patil to assist him in the Human Resource Development Ministry.

Floor Coordination in both the Houses of Parliament has also been entrusted to Mr Sriram Chauhan and Mr Faggan Singh Khulaste. Besides Mr Dilip Ray and Mr Santosh Gangwar will assist Mr Mahajan in managing the Parliamentary Affairs.

Mr Murasoli Maran will have Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah's son Omar and Dr Raman in running the Commerce and Industry Ministry.

The Railways will have one Minister of State in Mr Digvijay Singh.

Defending the large size of his Cabinet, the Prime Minister said he wanted to accommodate all coalition constituents and treat them as equals.

But for Union Ministers, Mr Ramakrishna Hegde, Mr Sikander Bakht, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala and Mr V. Ramamurthy (who lost the elections) Mr Vajpayee has included all the prominent members of his previous Cabinet.

They include Mr Lal Krishna Advani, Mr Ananth Kumar, Mr George Fernandes, Mr Jagmohan, Dr Satyanarain Jatiya, Mr Ram Jethmalani, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Mr Rangaraja Kumaramangalam, Mr Pramod Mahajan, Mr Ram Naik, Mr Nitish Kumar, Mr Naveen Patnaik, Mr Suresh Prabhu, Mr Kashiram Rana, Mr Jaswant Singh, and Mr Yashwant Sinha.

The new faces in the Cabinet include DMK members, Mr T.R.Baalu and Mr Murasoli Maran, Trinamool Congress President, Ms Mamata Banerjee, Shiv Sena member, Mr Manohar Joshi, Janata Dal (United) members, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, and Mr Sharad Yadav, and BJP members and former Chief Ministers Mr Shanta Kumar, Mr Sunder Lal Patwa. Tribal leader from Orissa, Mr Jual Oram has also been accommodated in the Cabinet.

The Ministers of State with Independent charge include, Ms Maneka Gandhi, Mr Dilip Ray, Ms Vasundhara Raje and Ms Uma Bharti. The new faces include the BJP spokesman, Mr Arun Jaitley, Mr Kannappan of the MDMK and Mr N.T.Shanmugam of the PMK.

The Ministers of State belonging to the BJP include, Mr Ramesh Bias, Ms Bijoya Chakravarty, Mr Shriram Chauhan, Mr Bandaru Dattatraya, Mr Jaysingrao Gaikwad Patil, Mr Santosh Gangwar, Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, Dr Vallabhai Katheria, Mr Faggan Singh Kulaste, Mr V.Dhananjay Kumar, Mr Bangaru Laxman, Ms Sumitra Mahajan, Mr Subhas Maheria, Mr Babu Lal Marandi, Ms Jayawantiben Mehta, Mr Muni Lall, Mr Harin Pathak, Dr Debendra Pradhan, Mr O.Rajagopal, Dr Raman, Mr Vidya Sagar Rao, Mr S.B.P.B.K. Satyanarayan Rao, Mr Bacchi Singh Rawat, Mr Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, Mr Tapan Sikdar, Mr I.D.Swami, Ms Rita Verma, and Mr Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav.

The representations from other coalition parties in the Ministers of State list include Mr A. Raja (DMK), Mr Gingee Ramachandran (MDMK), Mr Digvijay Singh and Mr V.Sreeniwas Prasad of the JD (U), Mr Omar Farooq (National Conference), Mr Ajit Panja (Trinamool Congress), Mr E.Ponnusamy (PMK), Mr Chaoba Singh (MSCP), and Mr Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil (Shiv Sena).

MPs from Punjab has been left out of the virtually "please all" Cabinet unveiled by the Prime Minister, and neighbouring Himachal Pradesh had one Cabinet Minister in former State Chief Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, and Haryana, in the wake of the Indian National Lok Dal opting out of the ministry, found representation in giant killer, Mr I.D.Swami of the BJP, who defeated former State Chief Minister and Congress leader, Mr Bhajan Lal from Karnal.

Jammu and Kashmir had two Ministers of State, Mr Omar Farooq, son of the state Chief Minister, Mr Farooq Abdullah, and Prof Chaman Lal Gupta of the BJP.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, were amongst the galaxy of leaders who witnessed the nearly two-hour swearing-in ceremony under the blazing sun in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr N.Chandrababu Naidu, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr M.Karunanidhi, the Vice President, Mr Krishna Kant, former Prime Ministers, Mr I.K.Gujral and Mr P.V.Narasimha Rao, and Chief Election Commissioner, Dr M.S.Gill, were among those present on the occasion.

The BJP got the lion’s share in the Council of Ministers with 14 members getting Cabinet rank, three members getting independent charge as Ministers of State and 28 Ministers of State.

The Janata Dal (United) was the other NDA coalition which got a maximum of four ministers with Cabinet rank, and two Ministers of State. The DMK has two ministers with Cabinet rank and one Minister of State, the Trinamool Congress one Cabinet and one Minister of State, the Shiv Sena has two Cabinet rank ministers and one with Minister of State rank. The Biju Janata Dal secured one Cabinet rank and one Minister of State. The MDMK, in the absence of Mr Vaiko, had one name in the list of Ministers of State with independent charge and one in the Minister of State list. The Pattali Makkal Katchi had one Minister of State with independent charge and one Minister of State. The National Conference and the Manipur State Congress Party had a Minister of State each.

Mr Jethmalani and Ms Maneka Gandhi were the two independent candidates who made it to the Council of Ministers.

Among the states, Bihar got the maximum representations in the Council of Ministers. Apart from Bihar with 11 ministers, MP, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra got eight ministers each, Uttar Pradesh (6), Gujarat (5), Orissa (4), West Bengal, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka (3 each), Delhi (2) and Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Assam, Manipur and Himachal Pradesh (one each).

Apart from Punjab, which did not get representation in the Cabinet, Goa was the surprise omission as the BJP had won both the Lok Sabha seats at stake in the State. Sikkim, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Mizoram and Nagaland were the other states which do not find a place in the Union Cabinet.

Mr Vajpayee who has been at the forefront in demanding 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament, accommodated a record eight women in his Council of Ministers. Of them six were from BJP, one from Trinamool Congress and one Independent.

Mr Vajpayee’s decision to accommodate Mr Jagmohan as the lone MP surprised many observers as there were speculations that he would find it difficult to ignore other strong contenders from the state. Former Chief Ministers, Mr Madan Lal Khurana and Mr Sahib Singh Verma, apart from Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who defeated Congress strongman, Dr Manmohan Singh failed to find a berth in the Cabinet.

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