New Delhi, Jul 12: Seven ministers were dropped, controversial Jairam Ramesh was promoted but shifted from the high-profile Environment Ministry and Veerappa Moily from Law in a substantive reshuffle of the Union Cabinet today which was marred by the resignation of Gurudas Kamat who quit within hours of being elevated as Minister of State with Independent Charge.
Even after the much-talked about reshuffle, several ministers continued to hold additional charge of some key portfolios.
Significantly, after carrying out the revamp, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said this was the last reshuffle before the next Lok Sabha elections although he made it clear that he has kept two slots vacant for DMK whose two ministers resigned under a cloud.
Singh did not touch the ‘big four'—Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs—and also kept four ministries, including Telecom and Civil Aviation, as additional charge.
Ramesh, who stoked controversies by his handling of environment portfolio with his proactive approach, gets Rural Development from where Vilasrao Deshmukh has been shifted to Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.
In another significant change, Singh also took away Law portfolio from M Veerappa Moily in the light of several embarrassments to the government in the Supreme Court and brought Salman Khursheed in the ministry.
Against this backdrop, Moily, who was shifted to Corporate Affairs, was visibly agitated when he said that the Law Ministry could not be blamed for “the sins of administrative ministries”.
Moily said: “For the sins of administrative ministries, the Law Ministry cannot be hanged.” These cases were the fault of the administrative ministries, he said.
“It has nothing to do with ... the law officers are only the face of the government in the court,” he said apparently answering critics that his ministry had failed the government in the Courts.
In the other discomfiture to the government, Kamat, a five-time MP and MoS in Home and Communication, resigned apparently unhappy over not being elevated to the Cabinet rank.
His resignation came within hours of his being elevated as MoS with Independent Charge with the newly created ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. He chose to keep away from the swearing-in ceremony and left for Mumbai after writing to the Prime Minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi has been elevated to the Cabinet rank and given the Railways portfolio left vacant by Mamata Banerjee after she became West Bengal Chief Minister.
Beni Prasad Verma becomes a Cabinet Minister for Steel, a portfolio he earlier held as Minister of State with Independent charge.
The eight new entrants and three others who were elevated to Cabinet rank were sworn-in by President Pratibha Patil at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presence of a host of dignitaries including Vice President Hamid Ansari, the Prime Minister, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj.
With today's changes, the strength of the Union Council of Ministers goes up to 68 with eight inclusions and seven resignations.
The other new faces in the Council of Ministers are Jayanthi Natarajan who gets Environment and Forests, Dibrugarh MP Paban Singh Ghatowar (DONER), Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyaya (Health and Family Welfare), Alwar MP Jitendra Singh (Home), Milind Deora (Communication and IT) and Rajiv Shukla (Parliamentary Affairs).
Today's exercise left another minister Srikant Jena not entirely satisfied over his elevation as Minister of State with Independent charge. However, he attended the ceremony.
Talking to reporters after the swearing-in of the 11 ministers at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Singh said the resuffle reflects a “balance necessary between various states, consideration of efficiency, consideration of continuity” in the government.
“As far as I am concerned this is the last reshuffle before we go to polls (in 2014),” he said, adding “This exercise is as comprehensive as possible.”
Asked whether he anticipated problems after the reshuffle because of some ministers being unhappy, Singh said, “there are bound to be problems when there is some redistribution of portfolios. We have taken into account the best interests of the country.”
Following ministers took oath today:
1. Shri V. Kishore Chandra Deo
2. Shri Beni Prasad Verma
3. Shri Dinesh Trivedi
4. Shri Jairam Ramesh
MINISTERS OF STATE (INDEPENDENT CHARGE):
5. Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan
6. Shri Paban Singh Ghatowar
MINISTERS OF STATE:
7. Shri Sudip Bandopadhyaya
8. Shri Charan Das Mahant
9. Shri Jitendra Singh
10. Shri Milind Deora
11. Shri Rajiv Shukla
The following portfolios have been allocated:
Shri V. Kishore Chandra Deo : Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj
Shri Beni Prasad Verma : Steel
Shri Dinesh Trivedi : Railways
Shri Jairam Ramesh : Rural Development
MINISTERS OF STATE (INDEPENDENT CHARGE) :
Shri Srikant Jena : Statistics and Programme Implementation and Minister of State in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers
Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan : Environment and Forests
Shri Paban Singh Ghatowar : Development of North Eastern Region
Shri Gurudas Kamat : Drinking Water and Sanitation
MINISTERS OF STATE:
Shri Sudip Bandopadhyaya : Health and Family Welfare
Shri Charan Das Mahant : Agriculture and Food Processing Industries
Shri Jitendra Singh : Home Affairs
Shri Milind Deora : Communications and Information Technology
Shri Rajiv Shukla : Parliamentary Affairs
The Prime Minister has further recommended that the portfolios of the following Ministers may be changed as indicated below:
Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh : Science and Technology and Earth Sciences
Shri M. Veerappa Moily : Corporate Affairs
Shri Anand Sharma : Commerce and Industry; and additional charge of Textiles
Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal : Parliamentary Affairs and additional charge of Water Resources
Shri Salman Khursheed : Law and Justice and additional charge of Minority Affairs
MINISTERS OF STATE:
Shri E. Ahamed : External Affairs and Human Resource Development
Shri V.Narayanasamy : Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions; and Prime Minister's Office
Shri Harish Rawat : Agriculture and Food Processing Industries; and Parliamentary Affairs
Shri Mukul Roy : Shipping
Shri Ashwani Kumar : Planning; Science and Technology and Earth Sciences
Seven ministers have been dropped:
1. Shri Dayanidhi Maran
2. Shri Murli Deora
3. Shri B.K. Handique
4. Dr. M.S. Gill
5. Shri Kanti Lal Bhuria
6. Shri A. Sai Prathap
7. Shri Arun S. Yadav