Manmohan calls up 59 MPs Ministers to be sworn in today
CABINET MINISTERS MINISTERS OF STATE WITH INDEPENDENT CHARGE MINISTERS OF STATE New Delhi, May 27
Ministers to be sworn in today
MINISTERS OF STATE WITH INDEPENDENT CHARGE
MINISTERS OF STATE
New Delhi, May 27
Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi personally called up each of them to inform them about their inclusion in the ministry.
The magnum 79-member strong council of ministers of the new UPA government includes 19 members from the allies- seven each from the DMK and the Trinamul Congress, three from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and one each from the National Conference and the Muslim League. The portfolios will be announced tomorrow.
While the PM and Sonia Gandhi had little say in the selection of the ministers from outside their own party, the duo had to ensure that the list of Congress nominees gave adequate representation to different castes and regions, while keeping a firm eye on competence and accountability. Despite the painstaking exercise undertaken by them, which took several days to complete, there have been several surprise inclusions and exclusions resulting in rumblings in the Congress.
Three Cabinet rank ministers and one minister of state represent Karnataka, which notched up a poor tally of six seats in the recent Lok Sabha elections. While former Chief Minister SM Krishna and Veerappa Moily were inducted last week, senior Dalit leader Mallikarjun Kharge was given a ministerial berth while fellow Kannidiga KH Muniyappa was named junior minister today.
Similarly, the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, where the Congress managed to win only one seat, has bagged two Cabinet berths for Anand Sharma and former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. In addition to Ambika Soni, Punjab’s Preneet Kaur was made a junior minister today while Pawan Kumar Bansal, Chandigarh MP and a minister of state in the outgoing government, was upgraded to Cabinet rank.
In a sharp contrast, Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress outdid itself by winning 21 seats, has no representation in the Cabinet. Salman Khursheed and Sriprakash Jaiswal have made the grade as ministers of state with independent charge while Jitin Prasada, RPN Singh and Pradeep Jain are only ministers of state. The absence of a Muslim face from the Hindi heartland in the Cabinet is particularly glaring, especially since the minorities had shown a marked preference for the Congress in these states in the recent elections. While Khursheed is the only Muslim face from UP, the only other Muslim from the Congress in the council of ministers is Ghulam Nabi Azad.
For a Prime Minister who puts so many premiums on the good governance, former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s appointment as a Cabinet minister has raised many eyebrows. Deshmukh was asked to step down as CM last year after the 26/11-terror attack in Mumbai because of his poor handling of the situation. The only explanation offered for Deshmukh’s speedy rehabilitation, when he is not even a member of the either House of Parliament, is that the Congress wants a Maratha leader at the Centre to counter NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Also, Assembly elections are due in Maharashtra later this year. Women have found adequate representation in the new UPA dispensation. While Ambika Soni, Meira Kumar and Mamta Bannerjee were among the 19 ministers who were sworn last Friday, today’s list includes Selja, who has been promoted as a Cabinet minister, Krishna Tirath (Minister of state with independent charge), D. Purandeshwari, Panabaka Lakshmi and Perneet Kaur have been named junior ministers.
While experienced hands have been given their due, there are a large number of new and young faces in the council of ministers. Among the young Turks, Jitin Prasada and Jyotiradiya Scindia have come back for a second stint as junior ministers while Sachin Pilot, RPN Singh as well as Bharatsinh Solanki and Tusharbhai Chaudhary are among the newcomers.
Although, it was being said no first timers would be given a ministerial berth, an exception has been made in the case of Shashi Tharoor, a former UN diplomat, who debuted as an MP in these elections.
A big omission in today’s list is former law minister HR Bharadwaj.