New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's big bang cabinet reshuffle, which emphasised on youth and loyalty, is drawing flak from within the UPA's own camp. The Samajwadi Party has slammed the decision to elevate what it calls tainted ministers and also that no ministers from Uttar Pradesh were inducted.
"No senior leaders from UP have been made ministers. In fact, tainted ministers have been elevated. Salman Khurshid has become the External Affairs Ministers and one minister who is named in the coal scam has been promoted," Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said.
Congress's own General Secretary Digvijaya Singh is also not pleased with the low representation given to his state Madhya Pradesh in the union cabinet. "Sonia Gandhi and the PM must have given these decisions a lot of thought. Yes we were a little disappointed in Madhya Pradesh but our focus now is to prepare for the general elections," Digvijaya Singh said.
The reshuffle also came in for harsh criticism from the opposition, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) calling it a 'damp squib'. BJP alleged that the UPA government has failed on all fronts and the country has seen biggest scams and highest inflation during the last eight years. "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is losing his credibility with each passing day, and country has never seen a prime minister who has a tall stature as an economist but despite his expertise in the field, country is facing the worst economic crises," National spokesperson of BJP Rajiv Pratap Singh Rudy said. The tenure of UPA-II was full off "economic disasters and marked by abject failure to arrest inflation," Rudy said. Commenting on the reshuffle in Union Cabinet, Rudy said it was a "damp squib" and exercise in futility.
Trinamool Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee said the Union cabinet reshuffle should have been undertaken by the government after proving its strength in Parliament following TMC's withdrawal of support. The TMC vice-president and state minister told reporters that "unclean" ministers were chosen by the Centre to "disturb" peace in West Bengal. "This government was formed by our support and after we withdrew, why did they go for a reshuffle without proving strength in the House? Mayawati and Mulayam are giving outside support. On that basis one can clear bills, but for forming a government a written support is needed," he felt. He alleged the reshuffle is "unconstitutional and unethical" as no other party has given a written letter of support to the UPA.
The UPA is having to answer some more uncomfortable questions as to whether Jaipal Reddy was shifted out from the key petroleum ministry under pressure from Reliance and also whether Sachin Pilot, the new Corporate Affairs Minister will tackle the Robert Vadra land deals.
When asked whether the new responsibility given to Jaipal Reddy was like a demotion, Ajay Maken said, "I don't think so because Jaipal has been given four different kinds of portfolios in the last 8 to 9 years and he has performed in each and every one of them and Science and Technology is also an important ministry."
When asked about a probe into Robert Vadra's deal, the new Corporate Affairs Minister, Sachin Pilot said, "I can promise you this much that I and my ministry will work with complete transparency. There will be no biases and prejudices and that the law of the land will prevail."
UPA ministry gets 17 new faces, core team stays
Manmohan Singh's imprint on the Sunday reshuffle in the Council of Ministers is evident with several leaders who are in favour of more economic reforms now a part of his new core team. In the biggest reshuffle of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Cabinet, Manmohan Singh inducted 17 new faces and a total of 22 ministers giving several new and young faces a chance to prove their mettle as his government tries to remove the taint of scams and non-performance from its progress report. The Congress has also shown that it is the big brother in the UPA by having 69 of the 79 ministers, including the Railways.
The big movers include Salman Khurshid who has been made the External Affairs Minister, a portfolio which is considered to be very close to the Prime Minister. Khurshid's move to the Ministry of External Affairs from Law & Justice and Minority Affairs is seen as an elevation despite allegation of his involvement in a scam in Uttar Pradesh. Ashwani Kumar had got the important portfolio of Law, which has been working overtime due the exposure of several corruption cases involving leaders of the ruling coalition.
MM Pallam Raju, too, has been elevated from Minister of State for Defence and is now the Human Resource Minister while Pawan Kumar Bansal is the new Railways Minister with Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and KJ Surya Prakash Reddy as his junior ministers. CP Joshi was holding the Railways portfolio as additional charge after the Trinamool Congress quit the UPA and withdrew its ministers in September 2012 following differences over economic reforms.
Manish Tewari with Information and Broadcasting and Telugu film superstar-turned-politician K Chiranjeevi, who has been given the Tourism portfolio are some of the new faces in the Council of Ministers. Both have been made the Ministers of State with independent charge. Shashi Tharoor, who had to quit as MoS External Affairs in April 2010 in the wake of allegations of wrongdoing in buying stakes in an IPL team, has made a comeback and is now Ministers of State Human Resource. Ajay Maken, too, has been elevated to the Cabinet rank and will handle the Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry. Maken at 48 years is also the youngest Cabinet minister in the Manmohan Singh government.
The Prime Minister has kept with core economic team with Anand Sharma retaining the Commerce Ministry despite the political upheavel over foreign direct investments. However, S Jaipal Reddy has been out of Petroleum Ministry and given the low-profile Science & Technology and Earth Sciences portfolio.
Kapil Sibal, too, has been downgraded and now only the Minister of Communications and Information Technology while Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad's desire for a high profile portfolio has been ignored.
The focus of the reshuffle was on inducting new and young faces with the states of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal cornering the major share out of the 22 ministers sworn in. While Andhra Pradesh has six new faces, West Bengal gets three more representatives. The move to give prominence to Andhra and Bengal is seen as a strategy to counter the Telangana statehood issue and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who has pulled out of the UPA following differences over economic reforms.
Former Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman and veteran leader from Karnataka K Rahman Khan, despite allegations of involvement in a scam involving Wakf Board land, made a re-entry into the government as Minority Affairs Minister, a portfolio held by Khurshid. In UPA-I, Khan was a Minister of State. Dinsha Patel was promoted as Cabinet Minister in Mines Ministry in the reshuffle and expansion.
Rahul Gandhi, who was earlier speculated to join the government, kept away with the Prime Minister saying the young leader wants to strengthen the party, notwithstanding his request to become a minister. The exercise, which the Prime Minister said was "hopefully, probably the last" before next Lok Sabha polls, was confined to Congress party barring the inclusion of Tariq Anwar of NCP as a Minister of State.
The ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, the Prime Minister, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Cabinet Ministers and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj.
The Prime Minister took away portfolios from ministers holding more than one charge and filled in the vacancies created by exit of six Trinamool Ministers, death of Vilasrao Deshmukh and resignation of eight Ministers including SM Krishna, Virbhadra Singh, Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik and Subodh Kant Sahai.
Another significant promotion has been made in the case of Ashwani Kumar who has been upgraded to the Cabinet rank and given the charge of the Law Ministry held by Khurshid. Yet another upgradation has been made in the case of Harish Rawat, who was overlooked for the post of chief minister of Uttarakhand earlier in 2012 and had revolted. From MoS in Agriculture Ministry, he has now been made a Cabinet Minister for Water Resources.
Significant changes have also been made by upgrading three young Ministers of State, considered close to Rahul Gandhi, and giving them independent charge. They are Jyotiraditya Scindia who has been given Power and Sachin Pilot Corporate Affairs, both of which were held by Moily in Cabinet rank. Jitendra Singh, who was MoS in Home Ministry, has been given Youth and Sports Affairs. Later in the day, a new communique was issued by the Rashtrapati Bhawan stating that Singh will also be given the additional charge of Ministry of Defence.
Veteran Congress leader and MoS K H Muniyappa has been shifted from Railways to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and Bharatsinh Solanki from Railways to Drinking Water and Sanitation with Independent charge. The other Ministers of State who have been shifted are D Purandeswari (from HRD to Commerce and Industry), Jitin Prasada (from Road Transport to HRD), S Jagathrakshakan (from I&B to New and Renewable Energy), KC Venugopal (from Power to Civil Aviation) and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajiv Shukla who gets additional charge of Planning. MoS External Affairs E Ahamed has shed the additional charge of HRD while RPN Singh has been shifted from Petroleum to Home.
Below is the full list of the UPA Council of Ministers after the reshuffle.
Manmohan Singh: Prime Minister, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Ministry of Planning, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space
P Chidambaram: Finance
Sharad Pawar: Agriculture Minister, Minister of Food Processing Industries
AK Antony: Defence
Sushil Kumar Shinde: Minister of Home Affairs
K Rahman Khan: Minority Affairs
Dinsha J Patel: Mines
Ajay Maken: Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation
MM Pallam Raju: Human Resource Development
Ashwani Kumar: Law & Justice
Harish Rawat: Water Resources
Chandresh Kumari Katoch: Culture
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
Ghulam Nabi Azad: Minister of Health and Family Welfare
Dr. Farooq Abdullah: Minister of New and Renewable Energy
Ajit Singh: Civil Aviation
Mallikarjun Kharge: Minister of Labour and Employment
Kapil Sibal: Minister of Communications and Information Technology
Anand Sharma: Minister of Commerce and Industry, Minister of Textiles
GK Vasan: Shipping
MK Alagiri: Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers
Praful Manoharbhai Patel: Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
Sriprakash Jaiswal: Minister of Coal
V Kishore Chandra Deo: Minister of Tribal Affairs, Minister of Panchayati Raj
Beni Prasad Verma: Minister of Steel
Ministers of State (Independent Charge)
Manish Tewari: Information & Broadcasting
K Chiranjeevi: Tourism
Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia: Power
KH Muniyappa: Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises
Bharatsinh Madhavsinh Solanki: Drinking Water & Sanitation
Sachin Pilot: Corporate Affairs
Jitendra Singh: Youth Affairs Ministry, Sports Ministry and Defence Ministry
Krishna Tirath: Ministry of Women and Child Development
Kuruppassery Varkey Thomas: Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
Srikant Kumar Jena: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
Jayanthi Natarajan: Ministry of Environment and Forests
Paban Singh Ghatowar: Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs
Ministers of state
Shashi Tharoor: Human Resource Development
Kodikunnil Suresh: Labour & Employment
Tariq Anwar: Agriculture & Food Processing Industries
KJ Surya Prakash Reddy: Railways
Ranee Narah: Tribal Affairs
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury: Railways
AH Khan Choudhury: Health & Family Welfare
Sarvey Sathyanarayana: Road Transport & Highways
Ninong Ering: Minority Affairs
Deepa Dasmunsi: Urban Development
Porika Balram Naik: Social Justice & Empowerment
Dr (Smt) Kruparani Killi: Communications & Information Technology
Lalchand Kataria: Defence
E Ahamed: External Affairs
D Purandeswari: Commerce & Industry
Jitin Prasada: Human Resource Development
Dr S Jagathrakshakan: New & Renewable Energy
RPN Singh: Home
KC Venugopal: Civil Aviation
Rajeev Shukla: Parliamentary Affairs & Planning
V Narayanasamy: Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Prime Minister Office
Lakshmi Panabaka: Ministry of Textiles
Namo Narain Meena: Ministry of Finance
SS Palanimanickam: Ministry of Finance
Preneet Kaur: Ministry of External Affairs
D Napoleon: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
S Gandhiselvan: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
Tushar Amarsinh Chaudhary: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
Pratik Prakashbapu Patil: Ministry of Coal
Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh: Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ministry of Corporate Affairs
Pradeep Kumar Jain Aditya: Ministry of Rural Development
Charan Das Mahant: Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Ministry of Food Processing Industries
Milind Murli Deora: Ministry of Communications and Information Technology