Cabinet reshuffle: Jairam elevated

New Delhi: Controversial minister Jairam Ramesh was today elevated to Cabinet rank and shifted from Environment Ministry as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a substantive yet incomplete reshuffle in the ministry dropping seven ministers and inducting eight new faces including V Kishore Chandra Deo.

In a significant change, he also took away Law portfolio from M Veerappa Moily in the light of several embarrassments to the government in the Supreme Court and brought Salman Khursheed in the ministry.

In the much-talked about revamping of his ministry, Singh did not touch the `big four`–Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs–and also kept four ministries, including Telecom and Civil Aviation, as additional charge.

Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi has been elevated to the Cabinet rank and given the Railways portfolio left vacant by Mamata Banerjee after she became West Bengal Chief Minister.

Ramesh, who stoked controversies by his handling of environment issue with his proactive approach, gets Rural Development from where Vilasrao Deshmukh has been shifted to Science and Technology, and Earth Sciences.

Beni Prasad Verma becomes a Cabinet Minister for Steel, a portfolio he earlier held as Minister of State with Independent charge.

The other new faces in the Council of Ministers are Jayanthi Natarajan who gets Environment and Forests, Dibrugarh MP Paban Singh Ghatowar (DONER), Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyaya (Health and Family Welfare), Alwar MP Jitendra Singh (Home), Milind Deora (Communication and IT) and Rajiv Shukla (Parliamentary Affairs).

Ministers who have been dropped from the Cabinet are M S Gill (Statistics and Programme Implementation), B K Handique (DONER), Kantilal Bhuria (Tribal Affairs), Murli Deora (Corporate Affairs) and Dayanidhi Maran (Textiles).

Ministers of State for Steel and Rural Development A Sai Prathap and Arun Yadav respectively were also dropped.

While Maran had resigned last week in the wake of his being named in the 2G scam, 74-year-old Deora had offered his resignation citing his age and had reportedly sought a berth for his son Milind.

The new ministers would be sworn in at a function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan this evening after which the strength of the Council will go up by one to 68. While there were eight additions, seven have been axed.

The restructuring exercise appeared incomplete with additional charge of Textiles and Water Resources being given to Anand Sharma and P K Bansal respectively. Sharma retains Commerce and Industry and Bansal retains Parliamentary Affairs.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal continues to hold additional charge of Telecom, while Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi retains additional charge of Civil Aviation.

Telecom portfolio went to Sibal after DMK representative A Raja resigned on allegations in 2G spectrum allocation.

No DMK representative was inducted today as replacements for Raja and Maran. Apparently, some of the portfolios have been kept as additional charges so that DMK can be accommodated if it chooses to send replacements.

DMK is expected to decide on the issue at its General Council meeting on July 23-24 in Coimbatore.

Veteran Parliamentarian from Andhra Pradesh V Kishore Chandra Deo makes his entry into the Cabinet for the first time, making him the second minister from the state after S Jaipal Reddy.

Srikant Jena, who nursed a grudge when he was made Minister of State in 2009, has got a promotion being given Independent charge of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

However, he continues to be MoS in Chemicals and Fertilisers where DMK`s M K Alagiri continues to be Cabinet minister.

Jena, who was a Cabinet Minister in the United Front government of 1996-97, reportedly is of the view that he should have been upgraded to Cabinet rank as Orissa does not have representation in the Cabinet.

The lone Congress MP from Chhattisgarh Charan Das Mahant makes a debut as MoS in Agriculture and Food Processing.

Gurudas Kamat has been shifted from Home and Communication ministries to a new ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation with Independent Charge.

Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed has been also been allocated the HRD portfolio.

Minsters of State V Narayanasamy and Ashwani Kumar shed Parliamentary Affairs portfolios which have gone to new entrant Rajiv Shukla and Harish Rawat, who retains MoS for Agriculture and Food Processing.

Minister of State for Shipping and Railways Mukul Roy, who yesterday defied the Prime Minister by not visiting the rail accident site in Assam, has been divested of the Railways portfolio.