The latest reshuffle by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has created a great deal of unhappiness in the Congress party, with the prime minister having opened a can of worms with his remark that this will be the last reshuffle before the polls. Interestingly, when Sonia Gandhi was asked to comment on the prime minister's remark after the swearing in ceremony, she merely said she would not comment on what the prime minister had said.
Within the Congress party it is being seen as cocking a snook at Sonia Gandhi with the prime minister now saying that there will be no further changes till the polls. This comes at a time when it is being felt that the current reshuffle has necessitated the need for a reshuffle either before or after the Uttar Pradesh polls.
Five-term Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai, Gurudas Kamat has already resigned from the council of ministers, while Srikant Jena is also unhappy with his portfolio. He said he will speak to the prime minister. There is a growing feeling that elected members of Parliament are not being given their due, while those from the Rajya Sabha, who have no base and no support from the people, are being promoted with plum posts and even plumper portfolios by the party leadership and the prime minister, who is himself from the Rajya Sabha.
Sources say that the message having gone home in Orissa is that there is no respect for the state in the Congress.
The Andhra Pradesh MPs are up in arms at the message that there will be no further reshuffle. Senior MPs who were looking at coming into the government said that Andhra Pradesh had sent the biggest contingent of MPs which had made it possible for Manmohan Singh to become the prime minister. They said that the Congress has been more than unfair to Andhra Pradesh. Both Jairam and Kishore Chandra Deo are not treated as from Andhra because they come under the Rajya Sabha quota and do not represent the state in the real sense. Jairam is from Tamil Nadu while Deo is originally from Orissa.
The Andhra MPs are now openly saying that it is not the prime minister who will win the state back for the Congress party.
A number of young MPs like Manish Tewari are said to be upset that they have been ignored since the prime minister failed to give any more representation from Punjab. Manish is a party spokesperson and is elected from Punjab and he was in the running for a berth in the government, while Milind Deora has been adjusted because he is his father's son, said a leader.
Amongst the senior leaders, Veerapa Moily is said to be deeply upset with sources close to him saying that he has been removed from law because of vested interests. It is learnt that he is pointing a finger at some cabinet colleagues whom he holds responsible for his shift of portfolio.
Vilasrao Deshmukh is also unhappy at what is being seen as his domination at a time when other non-performers like Sushil Kumar Shinde have not been touched and remain in an important portfolio like power.
Vilas Muttemwar has been made a general secretary in the All India Congress Committee and sources say this clears the decks for the removal of Mukul Wasnik from the AICC, as they both hail from the same region in Maharashtra. Wasnik will be retained in the government.
Overall, this exercise has left more questions unanswered than it has solved. Moreover, the PM's statement that this is the last cabinet reshuffle forces one think whether the prime minister would himself call it a day much before the polls or whether the United Progressive Alliance is headed towards an early poll?