The long awaited reshuffle of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's
council of ministers Tuesday saw changes in some major portfolios
with Salman Khursheed taking over law and Dinesh Trivedi railways,
new inductees like Jayanthi Natarajan, who was appointed to the
environment ministry, and seven ministers getting the axe.
The 'big four' - Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, External
Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and
Home Minister P. Chidambaram - have been left untouched in the
exercise to draft a new Team Manmohan.
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) forwarded to President Pratibha
Patil a list of 13 people to be appointed to his council, some of
whom like Jairam Ramesh were being elevated and eight new faces.
The ministers will be administered the oath of office at
Rashtrapati Bhavan Tuesday evening.
The reshuffle, the second in the United Progressive Alliance II
government after the first one in January, accommodates ally
Trinamool Congress by giving the key portfolio of railways to
Dinesh Trivedi, who takes over as a full fledged minister after
Mamata Banerjee was sworn in as West Bengal chief minister.
Sudip Bandopadhyay of the party also makes his debut as minister
of state for health and family welfare. However, Mukul Roy has
been relieved as minister of state for railways, a day after he
ignored Manmohan Singh's directive to visit a train derailment
site in Assam. He retains his job as the junior minister in the
The other key ally, DMK, figures nowhere, with Dayanidhi Maran's
resignation accepted as union textiles minister following
allegations of involvement in the 2G spectrum scam.
With A. Raja also having gone, this has reduced the DMK's presence
in the council of ministers to four -- M.K. Azhagiri (chemicals
and fertilisers), S.S. Palanimanickam (finance), D. Napoleon
(social justice) and S. Gandhiselvan (health).
E. Ahamed of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which is
pivotal to the survival of the Congress in Kerala, is back as
minister of state for external affairs and also gets human
resource development (HRD).
The primary charge of the HRD ministry continues to rest with
Kapil Sibal, who also holds the communications and IT portfolio.
In a father-son swap, senior leader Murli Deora is out of the
cabinet, and his son Milind in as minister of state for
communications and IT.
In the environment ministry, Jairam Ramesh has been replaced by
Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan and elevated as cabinet
minister in-charge of rural development.
Ramesh replaces Vilasrao Deshmukh, who has been shifted to the
science and technology and earth sciences ministry.
Amongst the other biggies, Salman Khursheed gets law from M.
Veerappa Moily, who has been made corporate affairs minister; Beni
Prasad Verma, who was minister of state for steel with independent
charge, has been elevated as cabinet minister in charge of the
The other new cabinet minister is V. Kishore Chandra Deo, who will
take care of tribal affairs and Panchayati Raj.
Joining Deo, Milind Deora, Bandopadhyay and Natarajan are four
other fresh faces.
These are Assam leader Paban Singh Ghatowar, who will be minister
of state independent charge (Development of North Eastern Region),
and three ministers of state - Congress' lone Lok Sabha MP from
Chhattisgarh Charan Singh Mahant (agriculture and food
processing); high profile Rajiv Shukla (parliamentary affairs) and
the understated Jitendra Singh (home), who is a close aide of
party general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
The others, whose resignations have been forwarded with the
recommendation that they be accepted, are DMK's Dayanidhi Maran as
well as M.S. Gill, B.K. Handique, Kanti Lal Bhuria, A. Sai Prathap
and Arun S. Yadav.
According to N. Bhaskar Rao, analyst at the Centre for Media
Studies: "The cabinet reshuffle is nothing to get excited about as
it does not indicate any direction or any special initiative from
"Some new talent has come in but there is nothing else to say
except that the environment ministry which was being headed by a
person who had been causing heartburn to many industries and their
investors has been shifted. Other than that there is no major