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Cabinet reshuffle: Jaipal gets Petroleum; Kamal Nath moved to Urban Development

Cabinet reshuffle: Jaipal gets Petroleum; Kamal Nath moved to Urban Development
New Delhi Sweeping changes to portfolios - a record 37 - but nobody was dropped in today's Cabinet reshuffle - a point stressed by a sniggering BJP soon after the announcements. After the speculation about whether there'd be dramatic changes, what the Prime Minister seems to have implemented is a game of musical chairs.

The big impact has been on economic and infrastructure ministries like Petroleum, Roads, and Rural and Urban Development, but ministers have traded places - so it's the same old faces now brandishing new portfolios.

Manmohan Singh  described today's reshuffle as minor, stressing, "There will be a more expansive reshuffle after the Budget." Government sources say that the reassignment of portfolios could be interpreted as a message from the PM against "crony Capitalism". Ministers in charge of economic portfolios who were observed to be close to select corporates have been transferred. Government sources also say that ministers seen as poor performers are now on notice and the next round of changes will apply the "perform or perish principle".

The major changes

After petrol prices were raised six times in the last year, Murli Deora moved from the Oil Ministry to handle Corporate Affairs. "I couldn't have held onto Oil forever," he said, denying that he was disappointed with his transfer. Jaipal Reddy takes on Oil now, and Kamal Nath gives up Roads and Surface Transport to replace Reddy in the Urban Development Ministry. CP Joshi, who was Minister for Rural Development, will replace Kamal Nath to handle Roads. (In Pictures: Know your ministers)

Praful Patel has been promoted to Cabinet rank but instead of Civil Aviation, he has been assigned to Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, a ministry that some say may be too low-key for the high-profile NCP leader. Not true, said Patel. "I am very happy that I am a Cabinet minister. In any person's political career, it is important to rise in the political hierarchy and after 20 years in Parliament if I did not become a Cabinet minister and my juniors were moving ahead, it was, certainly very important, both personally and politically for me to become a Cabinet minister." (Watch: Praful Patel on his promotion)

Vayalar Ravi, the minister for Overseas Indian Affairs will hold additional charge of Civil Aviation. (Read: Ministers now promoted)

Kerala, UP handled with care

The four crucial ministries - Home, Finance, External Affairs and Defence - remained untouched. Despite the PM's interest in a younger Cabinet, no young MPs were inducted.

Also left out - key allies DMK and Mamata Banerjee's TMC. Sources say the elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal will decide how the political equation at the Centre is recalibrated.

However, UP and Kerala, both politically crucial for the Congress have got important additions in the Council of Ministers.

Two ministers from UP - Salman Khursheed and Sriprakash Jaiswal - have been given promotion and Cabinet rank. Beni Prasad Verma, also an important leader from UP, joins the Cabinet as Minister of State (MoS) with Independent charge. (Watch: Beni Prasad Verma in, thanks Rahul)

The Cabinet already has three ministers of state from UP.

Kerala benefited likewise. KC Venugopal was made Minister of State (MoS), Power.

KV Thomas, a prominent Christian leader in Kerala, now has independent charge of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

Vayalar Ravi, already handling Overseas Indian Affairs gets additional charge of Civil Aviation and E Ahamed takes over as Minister of State for External Affairs,  a post vacated by Shashi Tharoor last year.

Other key changes

In other key changes, Sharad Pawar will be Agriculture and Food Processing Minister. He will not have charge of Food and Civil Supplies anymore. Kumari Selja will be Cabinet Minister, with additional charge of Culture and Subodh Kant Sahay has been moved from Food Processing to Tourism.

The Congress' Kapil Sibal who took over from A Raja after the 2G spectrum scam controversy forced the latter to step down, will stay on as Telecom Minister. He will also retain his Human Resources Development portfolio. He has been relieved of the Science and Technology portfolio which was given to him after Prithviraj Chavan was moved to Maharashtra as Chief Minister late last year. Veerappa Moily stays on as Law Minister, despite reports that the PM was not happy with his handling of the 2G controversy in court. Jairam Ramesh stays Environment Minister.

Promotions, losses and new faces

Among those taking their place in the ranks of Cabinet ministers are Salman Khursheed and Sriprakash Jaiswal. Khursheed gets his promotion and moves to Water Resources, with additional charge of Minority Affairs. And Shriprakash Jaiswal keeps Coal and is elevated. (Cabinet reshuffle: New Faces)

Ajay Maken has been given independent charge as Minister of State of Sports, a ministry that MS Gill has lost after the CWG mess. Gill will be Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Virbhadra Singh has lost the important Steel portfolio and got the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises portfolio.

KC Venugopal from Kerala and Ashwani Kumar from Punjab are new Ministers of State. Ashwani Kumar will be junior minister for Planning and Parliamentary Affairs, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences. Ashwani Kumar is known to enjoy the Prime Minister's confidence and was a minister in the UPA 1 government. KC Venugopal will be in the Power Ministry. (Read: Complete list of changes)

No political message, says BJP

The BJP was quick to react saying the Government had failed to send out a political message. BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain pointed that the "government has failed to act against the corrupt" and that it had merely moved those ministers from one bhavan to another. (Watch)

Cabinet ministers:

  • Sharad Pawar: Agriculture and Food Processing Industries
  • Virbhadra Singh: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
  • Vilasrao Deshmukh: Rural Development and additional charge of Panchayati Raj
  • Jaipal Reddy: Petroleum and Natural Gas
  • Kamal Nath: Urban Development
  • Vayalar Ravi: Overseas Indian Affairs and additional charge of Civil Aviation
  • Murli Deora: Corporate Affairs
  • Kapil Sibal: Human Resource Development and additional charge of Communications and Information Technology
  • B.K. Handique: Development of North-Eastern Region
  • C.P. Joshi: Road Transport and Highways
  • Kumari Selja: Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and additional charge of Culture
  • Subodh Kant Sahay : Tourism
  • M.S. Gill: Statistics and Programme Implementation
  • Pawan Kumar Bansal : Parliamentary Affairs and additional charge of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences

Minister of State (Independent Charge):

  • Dinsha Patel: Mines

Ministers of State:

  • E. Ahamed: External Affairs
  • Harish Rawat: Agriculture and Food Processing Industries
  • V. Narayanasamy: Parliamentary Affairs and Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Prime Minister's Office
  • Gurudas Kamat: Home Affairs
  • A. Sai Prathap: Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
  • Bharatsinh Solanki: Railways
  • Jitin Prasada: Road Transport and Highways
  • Mahadev S Khandela: Tribal Affairs
  • R.P.N. Singh: Petroleum and Natural Gas and Corporate Affairs
  • Tusharbhai Chaudhary: Road Transport and Highways
  • Shri Arun Yadav: Agriculture and Food Processing Industries
  • Shri Pratik Prakashbapu Patil: Coal
  • Shri Vincent Pala: Water Resources and Minority Affairs

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