No more reshuffle; this is it till 2014 polls: PM
In a surprise statement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday's resuffle of his Council of Ministers is the last before the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, but two slots have been kept vacant for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam as part of "coalition dharma".
Talking to media persons after the swearing-in of the 11 ministers at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Singh said the resuffle reflects a "balance necessary between various states, consideration of efficiency, consideration of continuity" in the government.
"As far as I am concerned this is the last reshuffle before we go to polls (in 2014)," he said, adding "This exercise is as comprehensive as possible."
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'There are bound to be problems when there is some redistribution of portfolios'
Asked whether he anticipated problems after the resuffle because of some ministers being unhappy, Dr Singh said, "there are bound to be problems when there is some redistribution of portfolios. We have taken into account the best interests of the country."
At the same time, he said two ministerial slots have been kept vacant for the DMK.
"It is part of our coalition dharma...I hope their decision will be coming soon," the prime minister said.
'Jairam has been given more extensive responsibility'
The DMK, which lost two ministerial berths due to resignation of A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran in the wake of allegations against them in the 2G scam, is expected to decide on filling those slots during its General Council meeting on July 23.
When pointed out that the government was facing problems and whether he was hopeful of overcoming these, Dr Singh said, "definitely, there is no doubt."
Asked about shifting of controversial Jairam Ramesh from Environment Ministry to Rural Development although with a promotion, Dr Singh said he has been "given more extensive responsibility. His experience will be better utilised in this portfolio."
Image: Jairam Ramesh
'I asked Rahul many times to join the cabinet, but...'
Queried why Rahul Gandhi was still not included in the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister said, "I requested him several times to join the Cabinet, but he has said he has responsibilities in the organisation."
On Gandhi's recent 'padyatra', he said he had undertaken it to get to know the needs of the farmers, who are the "most important people in terms of their contribution to national growth and agricultural production. Their contribution is enormous."
He said Rahul Gandhi was making effort towards "better understanding of farmers' problems."