The big bang Cabinet reshuffle: Ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, UPA II goes for an overhaul

first_imgThe big bang reshuffle by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, billed as the biggest ever in the past two decades, takes place on Sunday (today) morning. It could well be the last shuffle of the Union council of ministers before the next Lok Sabha polls in 2014.After the recent changes in key portfolios of finance, home and power in the wake of Pranab Mukherjee’s elevation as the President, the exercise on Sunday will see new faces in external affairs, information and broadcasting, power, railways, tourism, petroleum, parliamentary affairs, HRD and a few more. This is the biggest single shake-up witnessed in the eight years that the UPA has ruled the country.According to Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson Venu Rajamony, the ceremony to swear in the new ministers will take place at 11.30 am on Sunday. Though contours of the reshuffle became visible late on Saturday evening after a few meetings between the Congress brass and the PM, and between Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul, a clear picture was expected late on Saturday after a one-on-one meeting between Sonia and the PM to resolve some outstanding issues.Among those expected to be promoted are urban development minister Kamal Nath, who will be given the additional charge of parliamentary affairs and sports minister Ajay Maken, who is expected to move to housing and poverty alleviation. Jyotiraditya Scindia, Manish Tewari, Sachin Pilot and Pallam Raju are expected to get big portfolios. The first three will become MoS with independent charge while Raju will be a full cabinet minister. Veerappa Moily, Salman Khurshid, Dinsha Patel, Harish Rawat, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar are expected to be rewarded with important and powerful portfolios.External affairs minister S. M. Krishna , information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni, social justice minister Mukul Wasnik, tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahai, minister of state for minority affairs Vincent Pala, Mahadeo Khandela (MoS) shipping -all from the Congress and Agatha Sangma, MoS rural development from the NCP, resigned on the eve of the revamp of the council of ministers. Former Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K. Rahman Khan (who is from Karnataka) is expected to get minority affairs currently held by Salman Khurshid. Fellow Kannadiga and MoS railways K. H. Muniyappa, a Dalit face of the party, may be elevated to the cabinet rank in the social justice department. The state is bracing for polls next year.Another Dalit MP from Kerala, Kodikunnil Suresh (50) is being inducted as MoS in the railway ministry.The 49-year-old K. C. Venugopal (MoS in power ministry), also from Kerala, may get elevated as MoS Independent, while MoS home Mullapally Ramachandran may be dropped. Youth leaders Meenakshi Natrajan and Mausam Noor, sources said, declined to become ministers preferring to work for the party. The rejig has taken special care of Andhra Pradesh which is in turmoil over the demand for a separate Telangana state and the threat posed to the Congress in the wake of Jaganmohan Reddy’s rebellion. The Congress, which has 33 of the 42 Lok Sabha MPs from the state is struggling to retain its vote base.Surya Prakash Reddy and Porika Balram Naik belong to the Telangana region while Kruparani Killi and Chiranjeevi are from Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra. Daggubati Purandeswari, who is likely to be MoS for commerce, also belongs to the Andhra region.Apart from Purandeswari, who is the daughter of late NTR, Andhra Pradesh already has four other ministers -Jaipal Reddy, Kishore Chandra Deo, Pallam Raju and Panabaka Lakshmi.However, the Andhra package triggered a revolt with K. S. Rao, an MP from Eluru, shooting off a letter to Sonia and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, resigning from his parliamentary seat in protest against his non-inclusion in the council of ministers. The five-term MP feels he has been overlooked while greenhorns are being inducted. While the DMK has decided not to reclaim its portfolios, the NCP has dropped MoS rural development Agatha Sangma, and senior party leader Tariq Anwar will replace her.advertisementlast_img