Cabinet reshuffle: Three elevated to cabinet

New Delhi: In a surprise development, S Jaipal Reddy was on Wednesday made the Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister in the reshuffle and expansion of the Cabinet which saw elevation of three Ministers to the Cabinet rank and induction of three new faces.

Praful Patel, Shriprakash Jaiswal and Salman Khursheed were promoted as Cabinet Ministers while Congress leaders Beni Prasad Verma (Uttar Pradesh), Ashwani Kumar (Punjab) and K C Venugopal (Kerala) were the new inductions into the Council of Ministers in the rank of Minister of State.

Verma, who was Cabinet Minister in the United Front government of 1996, got the rank of MoS Independent Charge in today`s exercise which left untouched incumbents of the `big four` — Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs — and key ministries of Commerce and Railways.

The six were administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Pratibha Patel at a brief ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presence of Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Cabinet Ministers and a number of other dignitaries.

With the fresh induction, the strength of the Union Council of Ministers has gone up to 81, of which 35 are of Cabinet rank, six are MoS with Independent Charge and the rest Ministers of State.

No minister was dropped in the reshuffle which was described by the Prime Minister as "minor". He told reporters after the swearing in ceremony that a "more expansive exercise" would be undertaken after the Budget Session of Parliament.

Murli Deora was divested of the Petroleum and Natural Gas portfolio and shifted to Corporate Affairs.

Reddy has been shifted from Urban Development Ministry, which has now been given to Kamal Nath, whose portfolio of Road Transport and Highways has been given to C P Joshi.

Though Praful Patel, NCP, has been elevated to Cabinet rank, he has been shifted from Civil Aviation to Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises while Khursheed has been moved from Corporate Affairs to Water Resources.

Jaiswal has retained Coal while he moves up to Cabinet.

The reshuffle was restricted to Congress except NCP whose supremo Sharad Pawar also shed Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

Maken, who was MoS Home Affairs, now gets Youth Affairs and Sports as MoS Independent Charge while Beni Prasad Verma gets Steel. Prof K V Thomas, who was MoS Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has been elevated in the same department as MoS with Independent Charge.

Of the new inductions, Ashwani Kumar makes a comeback to the government as Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Planning, Sciene and Technology and Earth Sciences. The other new entrant, K C Venugopal gets Power as MoS.

In today`s exercise, the Prime Minister has made a rejig of portfolios both at the Cabinet and Ministers of State level.

M S Gill, who had come under attack over the mess in Commonwealth Games preparations, was shifted from Sports and Youth Affairs to Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Himachal Pradesh Congress veteran Virbhadra Singh has been shifted from Steel to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises while Vilasrao Deshmukh has been moved to Rural Development from Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. Deshmukh also gets additional charge of Panchayati Raj.

Kamal Nath has been shifted from Road and Transport to Urban Development while Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi got additional charge of Civil Aviation.

Kapil Sibal, who was given Telecom after the exit of A Raja retains both Telecom and HRD. He shed Science and Technology and Earth Sciences in favour of Pawan Kumar Bansal who also retains Parliamentary Affairs.

B K Handique was divested of Mines portfolio and left with Development of Northeastern Region while C P Joshi was moved from Rural Development to Road Transport and Highways.

Selja lost Tourism portfolio but got additional charge of Culture Ministry while keeping Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.

Subodh Kant Sahay was moved from Food Processing Industries and given Tourism.

Dinsha Patel, Minister of State with Independent Charge, has been moved from Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to Mines.

There have been a number of changes in the portfolios of various Ministers of State. E Ahamed, who was MoS Railways, makes a re-entry into Ministry of External Affairs in place of Shashi Tharoor, who had to quit in the wake of IPL controversy in last May. Ahamed was MoS in MEA in UPA-I.

V Narayansamy becomes the new MoS in the Prime Minister`s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions while retaining Parliamentary Affairs.

Gurudas Kamath has been shifted to Home Affairs from Telecom while A Sai Prathap from Steel to Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.

Bharatsinh Solanki, MoS Power, goes to Railways while Jitin Prasada moves to Road Transport and Highways from Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Following are the other changes in the MoS category.

Madhav S Khandela (Tribal Affairs), R P N Singh (Petroleum and Natural Gas and Corporate Affairs), Tusharbhai Chaudhary (Road Transport and Highways), Arun Yadav (Agriculture and Food Processing Industries), Pratik Prakashbapu Patil (Coal) and Vincent Pala (Water Resources and Minority Affairs).

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