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Reshuffle musical chairs: Who got what?

Last updated on: July 12, 2011 21:06 IST

Reshuffle musical chairs: Who got what?

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Controversial Jairam Ramesh was on Tuesday elevated to Cabinet status and shifted from the high-profile Environment Ministry and Veerappa Moily replaced by Salman Khursheed as Law Minister in a substantive reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers, in which several ministers continued to hold additional charge of some key portfolios.

Significantly, after carrying out the much-talked about exercise, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said this was the last reshuffle before the next Lok Sabha elections although he made it clear that he has kept two slots vacant for Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam whose two ministers resigned under a cloud.

Singh did not touch the 'big four'-- Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs-- and also kept four ministries, including Telecom and Civil Aviation, as additional charge.      

Ramesh, who stoked controversies by his handling of environment issue with his proactive approach, gets Rural Development from where Vilasrao Deshmukh has been shifted to Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

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Image: Jairam Ramesh after taking charge as Rural Development minister
Photographs: PIB
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In another significant change, Singh also took away Law portfolio from M Veerappa Moily in the light of several embarrassments to the government in the Supreme Court and brought Salman Khursheed in the ministry.

Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi has been elevated to the Cabinet rank and given the Railways portfolio left vacant by Mamata Banerjee after she became West Bengal Chief Minister.

Beni Prasad Verma becomes a Cabinet Minister for Steel, a portfolio he earlier held as Minister of State with Independent charge.

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Image: Cabinet Minister for Steel Beni Prasad Verma, at the swearing-in ceremony
Photographs: PIB
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The new eight new entrants and three others who were elevated to Cabinet rank were sworn-in by President Pratibha Patil at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presence of a host of dignitaries including Vice President Hamid Ansari, the PM, United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj.

With Tuesday's changes, the strength of the Union Council of Ministers goes up to 68 with eight inclusions and seven resignations.

Tuesday's exercise, however, left two ministers -- Srikant Jena and Gurudas Kamat -- not entirely satisfied over their elevation as Ministers of State with Independent charge.

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Image: Union Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi at the swearing-in ceremony
Photographs: PIB
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Talking to reporters after the swearing-in of the 11 ministers at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Singh said the reshuffle 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."

Asked whether he anticipated problems after the reshuffle because of some ministers being unhappy, 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."

Ministers who have been dropped from the Cabinet are M S Gill (Statistics and Programme Implementation), B K  Handique (Developement of North Eastern Region), Kantilal Bhuria (Tribal Affairs), Murli Deora (Corporate Affairs) and Dayanidhi Maran (Textiles).

Ministers of State for Steel and Rural Development A Sai Prathap and Arun Yadav respectively were also dropped. While Maran had resigned last week in the wake of his being named in the 2G scam, 74-year-old Deora had offered his resignation citing his age and had reportedly sought a berth for his son Milind.

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Image: Vice President Mohd Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Chairperson, National Advisory Council, Sonia Gandhi and other dignitaries at the swearing-in ceremony of the Union Council of Ministers at Rashtrapati Bhavan
Photographs: PIB
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The Prime Minister said two ministerial slots have been kept vacant for DMK.

"It is part of our coalition dharma...I hope their decision will be coming soon," he said. 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, Singh said, "definitely, there is no doubt."

Asked about shifting of controversial Jairam Ramesh from Environment Ministry to Rural Development although with a promotion, Singh said he has been "given more extensive responsibility. His experience will be better utilised in this portfolio."

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."

The restructuring exercise appeared incomplete with additional charge of Textiles and Water Resources being given to Anand Sharma and P K Bansal respectively. Sharma retains Commerce and Industry and Bansal Parliamentary Affairs.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi

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Human Resources Developement minister Kapil Sibal continues to hold additional charge of Telecom, while Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi retains additional charge of Civil Aviation.

Telecom portfolio went to Sibal after DMK representative A Raja resigned on allegations in 2G spectrum allocation. Kishore Chandra Deo, veteran Parliamentarian from Andhra

Pradesh, made it to the Cabinet for the first time to be the second minister from the state after Jaipal Reddy.

Jena, who nursed a grudge when he was made Minister of State in 2009, has got a promotion being given Independent charge of Statistics and Programme Implementation.  However, he continues to be MoS in Chemicals and Fertilisers where DMK's M K Alagiri continues to be Cabinet minister.

Jena, who was a Cabinet Minister in the United Front government of 1996-97, reportedly is unhappy. The lone Congress member of Parliament from Chhattisgarh Charan Das Mahant makes a debut as MoS in Agriculture and Food Processing.

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Image: Member of Parliament from Chhattisgarh Charan Das Mahant at the swearing-in ceremony
Photographs: PIB
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Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed has been also been allocated the HRD portfolio. Ministers of State V Narayanasamy and Ashwani Kumar shed Parliamentary Affairs portfolios which have gone to new entrant Rajiv Shukla and Harish Rawat, who retains MoS for Agriculture and Food Processing.

Minister of State for Shipping and Railways Mukul Roy, who on Monday defied the Prime Minister by not visiting the rail accident site in Assam, has been divested of the Railways portfolio.

The other new faces in the Council of Ministers are Jayanthi Natarajan who gets Environment and Forests, Dibrugarh MP Paban Singh Ghatowar Development of Northeastern Region, Trinamool  Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyaya (Health and Family Welfare), Alwar MP Jitendra Singh (Home), Milind Deora (Communication and IT) and Rajiv Shukla (Parliamentary Affairs).

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Image: New minister of State Milind Deora, at the swearing-in ceremony
Photographs: PIB
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