It was rather a lukewarm reshuffle from the scandal-hit UPA government. Even as the key ministries of finance, home, defence and foreign affairs did not see any change at the helm, several other key ministers have been shuffled. Oil Minister Murli Deora was replaced with Union Urban Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, while Roads Minister Kamal Nath took Reddy’s place.
Praful Patel was shifted from high profile Civil Aviation to Heavy Industries, while Murli Deora was shifted to Corporate Affairs. Civil Aviation, held by Patel, has been given as additional charge to Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed the reshuffle as “minor” by, and promised a “more expansive exercise” after the budget session of Parliament starting next month.
The excercise saw the elevation of three Ministers of State — Praful Patel, Shriprakash Jaiswal and Salman Khursheed — to Cabinet rank and induction of three new faces — Beni Prasad Verma, Ashwani Kumar and K.C. Venugopal — as Ministers of State. Kumar was reinducted after he was dropped as a minister when UPA II took charge.
Verma was inducted as Minister of State with independent charge while Ministers of State Ajay Makhen and K.V. Thomas have been promoted to independent charge.
Sports Minister M.S. Gill has been moved to Statistics and Programme Implementation, Virbhadra Singh from Steel to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Vilasrao Deshmukh from Heavy Industries to Rural Development.
Cabinet minister B.K. Handique saw Mines being taken away and leaving him only with Development of Northeastern Region. No 10, Janpath loyalist C.P. Joshi was shifted from Panchayati Affairs and Rural Development to Road Transport and Highways.
Kapil Sibal, who was recently given the Telecom portfolio after the exit of A. Raja, retained both the Telecom and the HRD Ministries while Science and Technology and Earth Sciences were taken away from him.
Union Minister Sharad Pawar saw Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution being taken away from him, while he will continue to be Agriculture Minister.
The other ministers who saw changes in their portfolios are Selja, Subodh Kant Sahay and Pawan Kumar Bansal. Selja lost Tourism and got Culture in addition to Housing and Urban and Poverty Alleviation, which she held, while Sahay was shifted from Food Processing Industries to Tourism.
Bansal retained Parliamentary Affairs and lost Water Resources to Khursheed, who was shifted from Corporate Affairs. Bansal got new charge of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences while Khursheed retained Minority Affairs.