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Cabinet reshuffle with UP, Kerala polls in mind?

Last updated on: January 19, 2011 21:43 IST

Cabinet reshuffle with UP, Kerala polls in mind?

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The reshuffle in the Union Cabinet, carried out on Wednesday, appears to have some focus on assembly election-bound states like Kerala and Uttar Pradesh.

Uttar Pradesh, which goes to elections in 2012, now has two Cabinet rank ministers -- Salman Khurshid and Shriprakash Jaiswal, one MoS with Independent Charge (Steel) in Beni Prasad Verma and three junior ministers -- Jitin Prasad, Pradip Jain Aditya and RPN Singh. Besides, Congress Member of Parliament P L Punia is already holding a Cabinet rank as the chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.

The number of representatives from Uttar Pradesh in the Cabinet has increased from five to six after Wednesday's reshuffle in United Progressive Alliance II, while there were only three ministers -- two Cabinet rank and one MoS -- from the state during the tenure of UPA 1.

Khurshid's elevation is crucial as he is the best-known known Muslim face of the party in the state, where the Congress came back with a bang during the last Lok Sabha elections, winning 22 seats. Khurshid had also served as the Pradesh Congress Committee chief in the state in the past


Image: Salman Khurshid

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Special attention to Kerala, UP

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Jaiswal, who too has been elevated to Cabinet rank, belongs to the Vaishya community, which has a sizeable population in UP, where the BJP is on the wane.

Beni Prasad Verma, who was once in the Samajwadi Party, belongs to the powerful Kurmi community from the Other Backward Castes, which has a significant presence in quite a number of constituencies in UP.

Care has been taken to represent the significant communities of Kerala as well, from where K C Venugopal, a new face, has been inducted in the union council of ministers. The leader belongs to the powerful Nair community.

Venugopal, who has been made a junior minister, is considered to be a replacement for Shashi Tharoor, the ex- minister of state for external affairs, who had to resign following the Kochi IPL ownership controversy last year. Tharoor also hailed from the same community.

Overseas Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, who hails from Kerala, has got additional charge of the key civil aviation portfolio earlier held by National Congress Party's Praful Patel as MoS (Independent charge).


Image: Vayalar Ravi

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Cabinet reshuffle with UP, Kerala polls in mind?

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K V Thomas, also from Kerala, has been elevated to MoS (Independent charge)and given the key ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, at a time when the government as well the Congress appear keen to rein in food grain prices, as spiralling prices could hit the party in election-bound states.

Thomas belongs to the Catholic fishermen community which has a sizeable population in coastal Kerala.

E Ahamed, the Indian Union Muslim League leader, who was earlier minister of state (Railways) has been shifted to the ministry of external affairs in the same capacity.


Image: E Ahamed

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