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59 ministers sworn in
Published on 29 May. 2009 12:50 AM IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday night allocated most economic ministries to members of his Congress party, which dominates the 79-member three-tier government, hours after most of the ministers took oath of office and secrecy at the presidential palace here. Three economic ministries, however, went to Tamil Nadu ally DMK, with A. Raja retaining communications and IT, Dayanidhi Maran given textiles, and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s son M.K. Azhagiri put in charge of chemicals and fertilizers. Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) Praful Patel, a confidant of NCP leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, also got to retain the civil aviation ministry as minister of state with independent charge. The top six ministries were announced May 23 with Pranab Mukherjee (Finance), S.M. Krishna (External Affairs), A.K. Antony (Defence), P. Chidambaram (Home), Sharad Pawar (Agriculture) and Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress (Railways). The allocation of portfolios among 13 of the 19 cabinet ministers who had taken oath last week and 59 ministers who took oath Thursday appeared to be based on proven track record as well as ability to deliver. Of the former chief ministers, Virbhadra Singh (Himachal Pradesh) is the steel minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh (Maharahstra) the minister of heavy industries and public enterprises, and Ghulam Nabi Azad (Jammu and Kashmir) the health and family welfare minister. Outgoing commerce minister Kamal Nath has been put in charge of road transport and highways, a ministry that will play a vital role in infrastructure development. Anand Sharma gets the commerce and industry portfolio that Kamal Nath held earlier. National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, another former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, was allocated the ministry of new and renewable energy. Among two other former chief ministers, Sushil Kumar Shinde got the power portfolio and M. Veerappa Moily the law and justice ministry. Among those who retained their ministries were S. Jaipal Reddy (urban development), Vayalar Ravi (overseas Indian affairs), Murli Deora (petroleum and natural gas), Subodh Kant Sahay (food processing industries) and M.S. Gill (youth affairs and sports). Kapil Sibal, former science and technology minister, one of three ministers from Delhi, has been given human resource development ministry, which was formerly with Arjun Singh. Meira Kumar is now the minister of water resources, Ambika Soni the minister of information and broadcasting. First-timer C.P. Joshi from Rajasthan will be minister of rural development and minister of Panchayati Raj. Kumari Selja retains the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation but also gets the tourism portfolio while G.K. Vasan from Tamil Nadu is the minister of shipping. Nine women figure in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s council of ministers, one less than in his previous government. 3 more ministers can be included in CoMs NEW DELHI, MAY 28 (PTI): The UPA Government can add three more members in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s team as the constitutional cap on the number of ministers in the current Parliament is at 82. The Government which has 79 ministers as of now can add three more with the constitution stipulating that the number of ministers cannot exceed 15 per cent of the total strength of Lok Sabha. According to the Constitution, “the total number of ministers, including the Prime Minister, in the council of ministers shall not exceed 15 per cent of the total number of members of the House of people”. With the current strength of Parliament at 543 and two additional nominated members bringing it to 545, the Government could have an 82-member council of ministers. Since 79 ministers have already been sworn in, three more can be added at a later date. Talent played vital role in deciding Cabinet: PM Rejecting suggestions that Uttar Pradesh has been given inadequate representation in the Cabinet, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi said that factors like talent have played a crucial role in deciding on the composition of Council of Ministers. Singh said his new Council of Ministers is a “mixture of experience and youthful energy”. “There are several factors like availability of talent and other considerations that played the role,” he told reporters when asked why Uttar Pradesh, where the party improved its tally from 10 to 21 seats, was not adequately represented in the Cabinet. The Cabinet has no one from Uttar Pradesh from where five MPs have found place as Ministers of State. When Gandhi was asked about inadequate representation to Uttar Pradesh in Council of Ministers, she pointed towards Rahul Gandhi and said, “Here is the reason. He is refusing to become a minister. He wants to work for the party.”

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