New Delhi: Eight new faces were today inducted into Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's council of ministers. The reshuffle is possibly the last before the 2014 general elections.
Mallikarjun Kharge, who was in charge of the Labour Ministry, has been given the charge of the Railways Ministry. Mr Kharge had recently lost out in the Chief Minister's race in Karnataka. The Railways Ministry was being handled by CP Joshi after Pawan Bansal had to resign in the wake of a corruption scandal last month.
Oscar Fernandes, also from Karnataka, has been given the Road and Highways Ministry.
Congress leader from Rajasthan, Sis Ram Ola, was given the Labour and Employment portfolio, while Girija Vyas got Housing, Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation. Rajasthan goes to elections in a few months
K Sambasiva Rao from Andhra Pradesh has been given the Textile Ministry. This is a last minute change as Choudhury Virender Singh was believed to be the front-runner.
Among new Ministers of State, Manikrao Gavit has been given Social Justice and Empowerment and Santosh Chowdhury Health and Family Welfare. JD Seelam has become Minister of State for Finance and ENS Nachiappan is Minister of State for Commerce and Industry.
Interestingly, before the final portfolios were given out, Congress President Sonia Gandhi spent an hour with the Prime Minister over lunch.
The Congress had yesterday announced its new team for Mission 2014 - perhaps to signal that the party is ready for the challenge.