Some gainers in Congress, a few lose spotlight in shuffle

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

NEW DELHI - The cabinet reshuffle Wednesday saw some Congress leaders gaining ministries perceived as important while a few others got portfolios that are less in the limelight.

Virbhadra Singh, C.P. Joshi and M.S. Gill are among the cabinet ministers shifted to ministries that appear to be less meaty than their earlier assignments.

Singh, who was steel minister, is now the minister for micro, small and medium enterprises.

Joshi was in charge of the Rural Development Ministry, which oversees implementation of some ambitious social sector schemes of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

The UPA has laid much emphasis on rural transformation and the charge of the ministry has now been given to Vilasrao Deshmukh, former chief minister of Maharashtra, where a scheme similar to MGNREGA was already being implemented.

Deshmukh has also been given the Panchayati Raj portfolio.

Gill, whose purported comparison of preparations for Commonwealth (CWG) Games with an Indian wedding had not been liked by sections of the Congress, has been moved to Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Jaipal Reddy, whose previous urban development ministry was partly responsible for the facilities related to CWG, has been shifted to Petroleum and Natural Gas.

The biggest shake-up has been in the Road Transport and Highways Ministry with the Congress leadership changing all three party ministers.

While Kamal Nath is the new urban development minister, Mahadev S. Khandela is the new minister for state for Tribal Affairs and R.P.N. Singh is minister of state for Petroleum and Natural Gas and Corporate Affairs.

Joshi is the new minister for Road Transport and Highways with Jiten Prasada and Tusharbhai Chaudhary being his two deputies in the ministry.

Vayalar Ravi and Kapil Sibal appear to be gainers in the reshuffle. While Ravi has been given charge of civil aviation in addition to his existing Overseas Indian Affairs portfolio, Sibal has retained Human Resource Development with additional charge of Communications and IT.

B.K. Handique has been left with one portfolio of Development of North-Eastern Region with his earlier portfolio of mines going to Dinsha Patel as minister of state (independent charge).

Murli Deora has been shifted to Corporate Affairs from Petroleum, Subodh Kant Sahay has been given tourism instead of food processing.

Pawan Kumar Bansal has been given science and technology instead of water resources, which is now with Salman Khursheed who has been promoted to the cabinet. Bansal and Khursheed retain their earlier portfolios of parliamentary affairs and minority affairs, respectively.

Kumari Selja has retained housing and urban poverty alleviation while getting culture in place of tourism.

V. Narayansamy has got the prestigious assignment of Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office while retaining parliamentary affairs and personnel, public grievances and pensions.

Among the younger lot of party ministers, Ajay Maken has been elevated as Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge).

Ashwani Kumar has made a comeback in UPA-II as Minister of State for Planning, Parliamentary Affairs and Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

Party leaders said the next reshuffle after the budget session, which Manmohan Singh mentioned Wednesday, may see more young faces coming in.

will not be displayed