By- Correspondent | Date- July 13, 2011
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday inducted eight new faces into his government, axing seven ministers and juggling few portfolios in a bid to recover the image of his Congress-led government. However it is clear from the nature and level of the change that this was just a minor and superficial change, aimed more at showing than doing.
The reshuffle left the big four, – Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Defense Minister A.K. Antony and Home Minister P. Chidambaram untouched. The 78-member council of ministers includes 62 from the Congress and 16 from allies in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Of the 13 ministries that deal with Indian economy, changes were made only in steel and mines, corporate affairs and railways.
Among the main changes, Salman Khursheed took over the law ministry from M. Veerappa Moily, who was changed to corporate affairs. Dinesh Trivedi of the Trinamool Congress was made the minister of the railways, while Jayanthi Natarajan, the only Congress woman MP from Tamil Nadu is the new environment minister. She replaced Jairam Ramesh who was raised as a cabinet minister in the ministry of rural development. Besides Natarajan, the other new faces are V. Kishore Chandra Deo, Sudip Bandopadhyaya, Milind Deora, Jitendra Singh, Rajiv Shuila, Paban Singh Ghatowar of Assam and Charan Das Mahant.
Among those were shown the door was Dayanidhi Maran from DMK, who had put in his papers earlier after being linked to the 2G spectrum scandal. M.S. Gill, on the other hand was thrown from being the sports minister when India hosted the corruption-hit Commonwealth Games. Mukul Roy, on the other hand was relieved as minister of state for railways, a day after he ignored Manmohan Singh’s advice to visit the site of a train bomb blast in Assam.
On the other hand, with both Maran out and A. Raja in prison, the DMK, the second biggest ally in UPA has only four representatives in the government. However Manmohan Singh has promised two ministerial slots for the DMK in an effort to keep the alliance intact.
Except for the likes of Congress veteran Gurudas Kamat who resigned from the ministry for personal reason, within Congress, there were few who was perturbed. Once it became known that Kamat was unhappy only because he was made the minister of state for drinking water and sanitation, emotions washed away further.
Manmohan Singh stated that he had repeatedly asked Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to join the government but he feels he has more to contribute to the organization. It is no surprise that Rahul Gandhi is saving his cards of aces for the last, something which would be unleashed in the 2014 Elections.
Assam’s Paban Singh Ghatowar will be minister of state with independent charge in the portfolio of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER). He replaces B.K Handique in the ministry. Ghatowar is expected to face serious concerns on finances and resources in his portfolio with more than 500 projects awaiting various stages of approvals or commencements. However the tea tribe has high expectations from their ex-leader. Mentionable that Ghatowar’s mother Kaushalya was a tea plucker at the Doomurdullung Tea estate and had refused to quit her job till the early nineties, even when her son became Union Deputy Minister for Labour (1991-93).