M A I N   N E W S

New-look Team Manmohan sworn in
22 ministers inducted
Khurshid gets MEA, Moily Petroleum
Ashwani Kumar made Law Minister
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today unveiled a new-look ministerial team with the induction of 22 ministers, promotion of younger ministers and a large-scale change of portfolios in an attempt to refurbish the UPA government’s image which has been hit by charges of corruption and policy paralysis.

The major shake-up included a rejig of high-profile ministries of External Affairs, Petroleum, Railways and Law. Several Ministers of State (MoS) were promoted and given an Independent charge of important portfolios while ministers holding dual charge were stripped of one ministry.

Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi decided to stay out of the government but a number of his nominees were elevated even as regional and religious considerations were also taken into account in drawing up the new team with an eye on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Andhra Pradesh bagged a major share, having got six more ministers, to counter the ongoing agitation for a separate Telangana and the threat posed by the YSR Congress. West Bengal also got three additional representatives, made possible after the exit of six Trinamool Congress ministers.

Salman Khurshid was named as the new External Affairs Minister in place of SM Krishna who put in his papers two days ago to pave the way for these changes. Khurshid, who was heading the Law Ministry, has been given charge of this high-profile portfolio even though he was recently embroiled in a controversy over alleged embezzlement of funds in his family-run NGO. Khurshid is not new to this job as he has done a stint in this ministry as a MoS in Narasimha Rao’s government. He is the third Muslim to helm this ministry after MC Chagla and Sikander Bhakt.

Ashwani Kumar, who has been elevated as a Cabinet rank minister, will take from Khurshid as the new Law Minister, a charge which, he said, presents the challenge of restoring the “fine and delicate Constitutional balance.”

In another major move, Petroleum Minister S Jaipal Reddy was removed from this key ministry and given charge of the relatively low-profile portfolio of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences. He has been replaced by Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily.

The departure of the Trinamool Congress made it possible for the Congress to retrieve the key railways portfolio from its allies. Pawan Kumar Bansal has been moved from Water Resources to this key ministry which has been languishing for several years now for want of a full-time head. Junior minister Harish Rawat, who had raised a banner of revolt over the appointment of Vijay Bahuguna as Uttarakhand Chief Minister, was promoted as Water Rersources Minister.

The Rahul Gandhi imprint was evident in the elevation of junior minister MM Pallam Raju as Cabinet Minister in the crucial HRD Ministry, which was held by Kapil Sibal who will continue to head the Telecom Ministry. Jyotiraditya Scindia, also an MoS, was given Independent charge of Power Ministry while Sachin Pilot is the new Corporate Affairs Minister (Independent). Ajay Maken also upgraded as a Cabinet minister and will now head the Housing and Poverty Alleviation Ministry. Another Rahul Gandhi teammate, MOS Jitender Singh was elevated as the Youth Affairs and Sports Minister.

The new faces in the Cabinet included Congress spokesperson and Ludhiana MP Manish Tewari who got lucky with his appointment as MoS (Independent) of the critical Information and Broadcasting Ministry, held by Ambika Soni who will now be given responsibilities in the Congress organisation which is also set for substantive changes.

The flamboyant Shashi Tharoor, who resigned as MoS External Affairs over two years ago following his controversial involvement in an IPL team, has staged a comeback as a junior minister in the HRD Ministry. The West Bengal contingent includes known Mamata Banerje baiters AH Chowdhary, Deepa Dasmushi and Adhir Chawdhury.





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