New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Sunday that he had always wanted Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi in the government but that he wanted to work for the party and strengthen it. Rahul Gandhi has not gotten any Cabinet post or elevated within the party amidst the mega reshuffle that took place on Sunday.
The rumour mill had gone on an overdrive in the days leading up to the reshuffle saying that Rahul could be made the Congress working president or the vice president. However, no such changes were made. In fact, contradicting all reports of a "younger Cabinet with a Rahul Gandhi stamp", the PM brought in a Cabinet that would be a "mix of youth and experience".
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh effected a major Cabinet reshuffle on Sunday, giving away the major share to Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal to counter the Telangana forces in the former and ex-ally Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress in the latter. Several ministers were elevated to the Cabinet rank, with many new faces being included at the MoS level, even as portfolios of several ministers were changed.
The PM labelled the new Cabinet as a mix of youth and experience and said that hopefully, this was the last major Cabinet reshuffle before 2014.
The following were elevated to the Cabinet rank: K Rahman Khan (Karnataka) - Minority Affairs Ministry, Dinsha Patel (Gujarat) - Mines, Ajay Maken (New Delhi) - Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Pallam Raju (Andhra Pradesh) - Human Resource Development Ministry, Ashwani Kumar (Punjab) - Law Ministry, Harish Rawat (Uttarakhand) - Water Resources, Chandresh Kumari Katoch (Rajasthan) - Culture Ministry.
Manish Tewari (Punjab) and K Chiranjeevi (Andhra Pradesh) were made Ministers of State with independent charge. Tewari is MoS Information and Broadcasting, while Chiranjeevi is MoS Tourism.
The following leaders were made Ministers of State: Shashi Tharoor (Kerala) - HRD, Kodikunnil Suresh (Kerala) - Labour & Employment, Tariq Anwar (Maharashtra) - Agriculture & Food Processing Industries, K Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy (Andhra Pradesh) - Railways, Ranee Narah (Assam) - Tribal Affairs, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (West Bengal) - Railways, Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury (West Bengal) - Health & Family Welfare, Sarve Satyanarayana (Andhra Pradesh) - Road Transport & Highways, Ninong Ering (Arunachal Pradesh) - Minority Affairs, Deepa Dasmunsi (West Bengal) - Urban Development, Porika Balram Naik (Andhra Pradesh) - Social Justice & Empowerment, Dr Smt Kruparani Killi (Andhra Pradesh) - Communications & Information Technology, Lalchand Kataria (Rajasthan) - Defence.
Existing Cabinet Ministers and their new portfolios
M Veerappa Moily: Petroleum & Natural Gas; S Jaipal Reddy: Science & Technology and Earth Sciences; Kamal Nath: Urban Development & Parliamentary Affairs; Vayalar Ravi: Overseas Indian Affairs; Kapil Sibal: Communications & Information Technology; CP Joshi: Road Transport & Highways; Kumari Selja: Social Justice & Empowerment; Pawan Kumar Bansal: Railways; Salman Khurshid: External Affairs; Jairam Ramesh: Rural Development.
Existing Ministers of State (Independent Charge) and their new portfolios
Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia: Power; KH Muniappa: Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises; Bharatsinh Madhavsinh Solanki: Drinking Water & Sanitation; Sachin Pilot: Corporate Affairs; Jitendra Singh: Youth Affairs & Sports.
Existing Ministers of State and their new portfolios
E Ahamed: External Affairs; D Purandeswari: Commerce & Industry; Jitin Prasada: Defence & Human Resource Development; Dr S Jagathrakshakan: New & Renewable Energy; RPN Singh: Home; KC Venugopal: Civil Aviation; Rajeev Shukla: Parliamentary Affairs & Planning.
Speaking to reporters after the swearing-in ceremony, PM Manmohan Singh said that hopefully this was the last reshuffle before the 2014 General Elections. When asked about Rahul Gandhi, the PM said that he has always wanted him in the government. "But he wants to focus on the party instead," said Singh.