New Delhi: In perhaps the last reshuffle before the 2014 general elections, the United Progressive Alliance on Monday inducted new faces into its Cabinet, but it seems like a clear sign that a fatigued UPA-II has run out of options.
A classic example was the return of 85-year-old Sis Ram Ola, who lost his Cabinet berth 4 years ago because he was seen to be too old for the task. However, now with the Rajasthan Assembly elections on the anvil, Ola is back as the Congress's Jat face. Also, making a comeback is 72-year-old Oscar Fernandes, who was also shunted out for alleged non-performance.
None of the other new faces are inspiring either, Girija Vyas, another Rajasthan MP, got rewarded for unswerving loyalty while Andhra Pradesh's 69-year-old KS Rao was inducted in a Cabinet which already has five members from the Congress's most politically crucial state.
Meanwhile, 71-year-old Mallikarjun Kharge was made the Railways Minister. Most of the ministers of state too are little more than token gestures. Three new faces - Santosh Chowdhury, JD Seelam and ENS Nachiappan were made Ministers of State along with veteran Maharashtra leader Manikrao Gavit. With the fresh inductions, the strength of the Union Council of Ministers has gone up to 77.
Perhaps the real story for the Congress lies not so much in the Cabinet changes, which represent a case of old wine in an old bottle, but in the organisational changes, where the imprint of Rahul Gandhi can be seen. With elections less than a year away, the party's organisation has taken precedence over the government's needs.
List of new ministers:
- Sis Ram Ola gets Labour and Employment portfolio
- Oscar Fernandes gets Road and Highways Ministry
-Dr Girija Vyas gets Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry
- Dr Kavuru Sambasiva Rao gets Textiles Ministry
MINISTERS OF STATE
- Dr EM Sudarsana Natchiappan gets Commerce and Industries Ministry
- Among new Ministers of State, Manikrao Gavit gets Social Justice and Empowerment
- Santosh Chowdhury gets Health and Family Welfare
- JD Seelam becomes Ministers of State Finance.