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Assam MP Ghatowar Gets DoNER, Manipur’s Honeymoon With Nil Continues At Delhi

NEW DELHI, Jul 12: Seven Ministers were dropped; controversial Jairam Ramesh was promoted but shifted from the high-profile Environment Minis- try and Veerappa Moily from Law in a substantive reshuffle of the Union Cabinet today which was marred by the resignation of Gurudas Kamat who quit within hours of being elevated as Minister of State with Independent Charge.

Manipur was left in the cold once again with none of the three Congress MPs named in the Ministry.

Even after the much-talked about reshuffle, several ministers continued to hold additional charge of some key portfolios.

Significantly, after carrying out the revamp, 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 DMK whose two ministers resigned under a cloud.

Singh did not touch the ‘big four’—Finance, Home, Defense 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 portfolio with his proactive approach, gets Rural Development from where Vilasrao Deshmukh has been shifted to Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

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.

Against this backdrop, Moily, who was shifted to Corporate Affairs, was visibly agitated when he said that the Law Ministry could not be blamed for “the sins of administrative ministries”.

Moily said: “For the sins of administrative ministries, the Law Ministry cannot be hanged.” These cases were the fault of the administrative ministries, he said.

“It has nothing to do with … the law officers are only the face of the government in the court,” he said apparently answering critics that his ministry had failed the government in the Courts.

In the other discomfiture to the government, Kamat, a five-time MP and MoS in Home and Communication, resigned apparently unhappy over not being elevated to the Cabinet rank.

His resignation came within hours of his being elevated as MoS with Independent Charge with the newly created ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. He chose to keep away from the swearing-in ceremony and left for Mumbai after writing to the Prime Minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

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.

The 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 Prime Minister, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj.

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

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

Today’s exercise left another minister Srikant Jena not entirely satisfied over his elevation   as Minister of State with Independent charge. However, he attended the ceremony.

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.”

(Courtesy: Press Trust of India)

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