In an attempt of creating a group of young and experienced leaders, the UPA government on Sunday inducted seven new ministers in Manmohan Singh’s Union cabinet in a reshuffle-cum-expansion exercise that saw the exit of six ministers of state.
Of these seven new cabinet ministers, the two young brigade Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasad is son of former senior Congress leaders Madhav Rao Scindia and Jitendra Prasad respectively. Besides, former chief election commissioner M S Gill, Congress Punducherry chief V N Narayanswamy, industrialist-turned-politician Sanjay Bagrodia, the former IPS officer Dr. Rameshwar Oraon from Jharkhand. Of these seven ministers that took oath of office and secrecy on Sunday, RJD MP form Bihar, Raghunath Jha was the only one from non-Congress background.
The oath ceremony was administered by President Pratibha Patil held at Rashtrapati Bhawan and attended by the Prime Minister, his cabinet colleagues, and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
The young blood Jyotiraditya Scindia, a Harvard graduate and an MP from Guna, Madhya Pradesh has made the Minister of State for Communications and IT while Jitin Prasad has entrusted with Steel portfolio.
However, the biggest surprise that marked the expansion decision was the absence of another young horn Sachin Pilot, the Dausa MP and son of the slain Congress leader Rajesh Pilot. With a unique blend of rural and urban appeal, the junior Pilot has great potential to be a successful leader, as observers believe.
The changes in the ministerial portfolio were influenced by the need to induct fresh blood, fill up ministerial slots vacated by two Rajya Sabha members and most of all reshuffle was taken into account to rid certain departments of problems caused by personality conflicts.
Under reshuffle exercise, Kerala’s Vayalar Ravi has been given extra charge of Parliamentary Affairs in addition to his own Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who also holds the I&B portfolio had vacated the portfolio. M S Gill has been entrusted independent charge of the sports and youth affairs ministry from reluctant Mani Shankar Aiyar, who was found at loggerheads with the Indian Olympic Association.
The ministers who quit comprise Suresh Pachouri and M V Rajasekharan. Pachouri’s charge of Personnel goes to Prithviraj Chavan, MoS in the PM’s office who has some organisational responsibilities.
However, the reshuffle might was not last as Manmohan Singh given hint that there might be another reshuffle take place in May in the event of leadership change in Maharashtra.
On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi, MP from Amethi refused to take the charge of any ministry despite the desire of his mother and AICC chairperson Sonia Gandhi and expressed his wish to working at root level for providing strength to the party.