PM axes 7 ministers, inducts 8 new faces

New Delhi: In a substantive yet incomplete exercise, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today dropped seven ministers, inducted V Kishore Chandra Deo and seven other new faces, and elevated three others including Jairam Ramesh from whom Environment and Forests has been taken away.

In the much-talked about revamping of his ministry, Singh did not touch the `big four` — Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs — but shifted M Veerappa Moily from Law to Corporate Affairs and brought Salman Khursheed in his place.

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.

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). While Maran had resigned last week in the wake of his being named in the 2G scam, Deora had offered his resignation citing old 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.