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Jaitley, Thakur back in Union Cabinet

January 30, 2003 04:47 IST

Arun Jaitley on Wednesday returned to the Union Cabinet with three major portfolios - Law, Commerce and Industry - while Divestment Minister Arun Shourie got the key Communication and Information Technology ministries in a reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers, which saw the exit of eight ministers and the induction of an equal number.

Communication and IT minister Pramod Mahajan, Law minister Jana Krishnamurthy, Coal minister Uma Bharti, Shipping minister Ved Prakash Goyal (all Cabinet) were among those who sent in their resignation ahead of the overhaul by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

In a significant move, the prime minister shed the Personnel Department, under which the CBI comes, to the home ministry headed by Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani.

The department used to be under the Home ministry, but was shifted to the PMO during the days of Indira Gandhi.

Another significant change was the shifting of MoS in the PMO Vijay Goel. He will now handle Parliamentary Affairs and Labour.

Like Jaitley, C P Thakur, who was dropped in the last July reshuffle, made a re-entry into the Cabinet and got Northeastern Affairs, so far held by Shourie, and Small Scale Industries.

Contrary to reports that it would go to Finance Minster Jaswant Singh, Shourie will continue to handle the divestment portfolio. Singh retains Company Affairs, which was earlier with the law ministry.

Both Vajpayee and Advani said the changes were aimed at the strengthening the party ahead of the assembly elections in nine states this year and the Lok Sabha poll in 2004.

Tribal leader from Jharkhand Karia Munda, who has the Agro Processing and Rural Industries portfolios, now also gets charge of Coal after Uma Bharti resigned to take over as chief of the BJP unit in Madhya Pradesh.

Others inducted into the government were Chatrapal Singh, Dilip Gandhi, Dilip Judev, Bhavna Chikalia, Jas Kaur Meena (all ministers of state) and Sanghpriya Gautam (MoS with independent charge).

The four ministers of state who resigned were Vasundhararaje (Small Scale Industries), Raman Singh (Commerce and Industry, who is tipped to take over as chief of the Chhattisgarh BJP unit), Nikhil Kumar Choudhary (Agro and Rural Industries) and Rita Verma (HRD).

Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj was shifted to Health and Family Welfare, so far held by Shatrughan Sinha. She will also be in charge of Parliamentary Affairs, earlier held by Mahajan.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, earlier MoS in the Coal ministry, will now hold independent charge of the I&B portfolio.

Sinha, who came under attack for his 'casual approach' to the Health ministry, has been shifted to shipping.

MoS for Tourism and Culture Vinod Khanna will be the new MoS in the External Affairs Ministry while Ramesh Bais, till now MoS I&B, will now hold independent charge of Mines.

New ministers Chattarpal Singh will be MoS in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, Judev (Environment and Forest), Dilip Gandhi (Shipping), Chikalia (Parliamentary Affairs, Tourism and Culture) and Meena (HRD).

Tapan Sikdar has been shifted as MoS from Chemical and Fertiliser to SSI and Northeast Development, Sunhash Mahalia (to Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution), Vidya Sagar Rao (Commerce and Industry), Satyabrata Mukherjee (Atomic Energy, Space, Statistics and Programme Implementation and Planning), Sanjay Paswan (Social Justice and Empowerment), Thirunavukkarasar (Communication and IT).

Ashok Pradhan will be another MoS in the HRD ministry. U V Krishnam Raju has been given Rural Development, Vallabhbhai Kathiria (Health and Family Welfare), Haren Pathak (Home), O Rajgopal (Defence), Vijay Goel (Parliamentary Affairs and Labour) and Santosh Gangwar (Petroleum).

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