M A I N   N E W S

Cabinet reshuffle
7 new faces inducted
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

Rameshwar Oraon
Rameshwar Oraon
Jitin Prasada
Jitin Prasada
Santosh Bagrodia
Santosh Bagrodia

Jyotiraditya Scindia
Jyotiraditya Scindia

Raghunath Jha
Raghunath Jha

M. S. Gill
M. S. Gill

V. Narayanasamy
V. Narayanasamy

New Delhi, April 6
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today attempted to impart a new look to his ministerial team in the run-up to the upcoming elections by shuffling several portfolios and inducting young as well as experienced new faces, including Congress youth brigade members Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasada, and former bureaucrat M.S Gill, who replaced the controversial Mani Shankar Aiyar in the youth affairs and sports ministry.

Six incumbent Ministers of State were dropped to make way for the newcomers. Others who were sworn in at a special function by President Pratibha Patil this evening included three Congress MPs, V. Narayanasamy, Rameshwar Oraon and Santosh Bagrodia and RJD MP Raghunath Jha. Except for Gill who was given independent charge, the others were inducted as Ministers of State.

These changes, which were given finishing touches by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi at a meeting this morning, are essentially aimed at shoring up the UPA government’s image ahead of the series of year-end assembly elections and the Lok Sabha polls thereafter.

Some rationalisation of the portfolios was also on the cards as union minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, who was in charge of parliamentary affairs and the information and broadcasting ministries, had recently been appointed Bengal Congress chief. Similarly, replacements had to be found for Suresh Pachouri, who was also appointed Madhya Pradesh Congress president, and M.V. Rajshekharan as their Rajya Sabha terms had ended and they were not re-nominated. They put in their resignation papers along with Manikrao Gavit (Home), Dasari Narayan Rao (Coal), T. Subbarami Reddy (Mines) and Akhilesh Das (Steel).

Dasmunsi continues as information and broadcasting minister but has shed parliamentary affairs which has now been given to Vayalar Ravi along with the overseas affairs ministry. Ravi will share responsibilities with V. Naranswamy and Minister of State P. K. Bansal who will handle parliamentary affairs along with finance.

Former Chief Election Commissioner Gill, who was elected to Rajya Sabha from Punjab, is the new youth affairs and sports minister in place of Mani Shankar Aiyar who had publicly declared that he had no interest in sports. Besides, the outspoken minister was having a running battle with Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi, which had become quite embarrassing for the government.

Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, who gets communications and information technology and Jitin Prasada who replaces his colleague from Uttar Prdesh in the steel ministry, represent the young face of the Congress. Scindia was accommodated in the ministry as he was denied any organisational responsibility in his home state Madhya Pradesh which is headed for polls this year-end. Their swearing in was an emotional moment for their mothers who were present with other family members to witness the ceremony.

The inclusion of tribal leader Rameshwar Oraon, who gets the tribal affairs portfolio, is part of the Congress’ fresh efforts to woo the tribals and also to tone up its organisation in Jharkhand under a new leader. Rajya Sabha MP Bagrodia, who will now handle the coal ministry, has been given a berth clearly with an eye on the upcoming Rajasthan Assembly elections.

Bijoy Krishna Handique, Minister of State for chemicals and fertilisers and parliamentary affairs, has given been the additional and independent charge of the mines ministry. While Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for commerce and industry, has been given additional charge of the power ministry.


Ministers of State

M. S. Gill — Youth Affairs & Sports (Independent Charge)

V. Narayanasamy — Parliamentary Affairs, Planning

Santosh Bagrodia — Coal

Raghunath Jha — Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises

Rameshwar Oraon — Tribal Affairs

Jyotiraditya Scindia — Communications and Information Technology

Jitin Prasada — Steel

List of changes in portfolios of Ministers after the Cabinet reshuffle:

Jairam amesh (Minister of State Commerce) gets additional charge of power ministry.

Kanti Singh shifted to tourism and cultural ministry

Vayalar Ravi (Overseas Indian Affairs Minister) given additional charge of parliamentary affairs.

Shakeel Ahmed (Minister of State) shifted to home ministry.

Pawan Kumar Bansal gets additional charge of parliamentry affairs.

B. K. Handique (Minister of State) gets additional charge of mines, divested of parliamentary affairs.

Prithviraj Chavan (Minister of State in PMO) gets additional charge of personnel, public grievances & pensions.



Sonia: Rahul refused Cabinet berth

AICC general secretary and Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi appears to be emulating his mother Sonia Gandhi who had refused to accept the Prime Minister’s post. Following in her footsteps, Rahul refused a ministerial assignment and instead opted to work in the party organisation. Disclosing as much to mediapersons after the swearing in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Sonia Gandhi said, “I wanted Rahul Gandhi to be part of this young team but he refused.” — TNS



PM rules out early LS poll

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today ruled out an early Lok Sabha poll, saying his government would complete its full term. “Our government is stable...we will complete our full term” he told reporters after the swearing in at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here. On the ongoing confrontation between the government and the Left parties on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Dr Singh said, “We are having discussions with the Left parties. We are hopeful (of resolving the issue).” — UNI



Sachin Pilot fails to make it

New Delhi, April 6
Member of the Congress youth brigade Sachin Pilot today failed to find a place in the Cabinet expansion apparently because of the induction of Bagrodia, who also hails from Rajasthan. Asked why not more than two young MPs were inducted, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said there was no scope because of coalition compulsion.

On the induction of more young members, the Prime Minister said it was a suggestion for action. Thus, while it was celebration all the way outside the residence of Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia as firecrackers and drumbeats heralded his entry into the Union Council of Ministers, there was stunned silence at the residence of Sachin Pilot, who was also tipped to form part of the Cabinet but ultimately did not make it.

The scene at the residence of the 31-year-old Pilot was gloomy with some supporters who arrived there expressing disappointment and anger at their leader being ignored in the Cabinet expansion. Pilot himself remained incommunicado. — PTI



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