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Manmohan’s new Team to run India

Published on 13 Jul. 2011 12:53 AM IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday inducted eight new faces into his government, axed seven ministers and juggled some portfolios in a bid to improve the image of his Congress-led government. The muc h -expected exercise was, however, marred by the resignation of Congress veteran Gurudas Kamat, who said he wanted to leave the ministry for “personal reasons”. Congress sources said he was asked to leave after it became known that he was unhappy to be made the minister of state for drinking water and sanitation-- a new portfolio. “As far as I am concerned, this is the last reshuffle before we go to the polls (in 2014),” Manmohan Singh later told reporters at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. “This exercise is as comprehensive as possible.” The prime minister added he had repeatedly asked Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to join the government “but he feels he has more to contribute to the organisation”. The reshuffle, the second since January, left the ‘big four’ -- Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Home Minister P. Chidambaram - untouched. The 78-member council of ministers includes 62 from the Congress and 16 from allies in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). “Consideration of efficiency, of continuity and all elements were taken into account,” Manmohan Singh said of the changes made in his government. He underlined that Jairam Ramesh had been rewarded for good work. Among those asked to go were DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran, who put in his papers earlier after being linked to the spectrum scandal, and M.S. Gill, the sports minister when India hosted the corruption-hit Commonwealth Games. One of the seven dropped ministers, Arun Yadav, got a place in the Congress party machinery. N. Bhaskar Rao, analyst at the Centre for Media Studies, echoed popular sentiment that there was nothing to cheer about. “Some new talent has come in,” Rao told IANS. “But there is nothing else to say except that the environment ministry, which was being headed by a person who had been causing heartburn to many industries and their investors, has been shifted. Other than that there is no major change.” E. Ahamed of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which is pivotal to the survival of the Congress government in Kerala, is back as minister of state for external affairs and got the human resource development (HRD). Assam’s Ghatowar will be minister of state with independent charge (Development of North Eastern Region). Other ministers of state are Mahant (agriculture and food processing); the high profile Shukla (parliamentary affairs) and Jitendra Singh (home), a close aide of Rahul Gandhi. BJP says Cabinet reshuffle ‘damp squib’ BJP described the Cabinet reshuffle as a “damp squib” and insisted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has failed to reassure the nation and dispel the “gloom shadowing the UPA government”. “The Prime Minister’s much acclaimed and awaited reshuffle has proven to be a damp squib. It is a futile exercise which inspires none and in no way dispels the gloom shadowing the embattled UPA government,” said BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

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