Cabinet Reshuffle: Old players in a New Game!
An informal term, Cabinet reshuffle or shuffle is an event that takes place at the Parliament whereby the head of the Government changes or rotates or rather shuffles the composition of the existing ministers in the cabinet and their responsibilities.
Generally, a cabinet reshuffle refers to that where few ministers from the cabinet are shifted from the existing portfolio to some other. The cabinet shuffle may take place periodically depending on whether there arises the need to replace the ministers who have retired or might have resigned. Forming the cabinets or reshuffling of cabinets also serves as a major way for the Government to punish or reward any supporter. It is a practice leading to shuffling of ministers when a new section or group in a party happens to takes over. Cabinet reshuffles are less common in those systems where the members of the Cabinet are not selected from the legislative branch.
The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh’s comments regarding the reshuffling of the cabinet prior to the winter months, triggered lot of speculations on the cabinet reshuffle of 2011. Several theories were being put forward behind the reasons for such a move by the Government.
Although Manmohan Singh expressed the desire to pull down the age of the Cabinet, yet the Congress was of the opinion that this would require a major and big shake-up. Many in the party also felt that the Prime Minster should wait for the coming year in order to undertake a proper and meaningful reshuffle, thereby providing the people with a strong and good political message!
To quote one of the Congress leaders:
“He may be able to do some cosmetic changes like induction of two or three ministers, but a major exercise appears very difficult,”.
In a question as to why did the Prime Minister at all give indications for reshuffling, it was believed that may be Manmohan Singh wanted to fill up the 4 vacancies created by resignation of Shashi Tharoor and Meira Kumar’s election as the speaker of the Lok Sabha.
According to some other source, reshuffling was needed in order to address certain situations in few states. Another possible reason, sources said, could be the need to address the situation in certain states.
Speculations were on high and it is being believed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would induct several new faces while some of the ministers from Congress would be sent for the party work. Speculations were also that owing to his deteriorating health, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, K. Rosaiah would be replaced by Jaipal Reddy, Union urban development minister. It was also speculated that Sheila Dikshit, the Delhi Chief Minister would be moved to the Union Cabinet, post the Commonwealth Games, 2010.
The 1st ever cabinet reshuffle for the nineteenth months of United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II government, finally happened on Wednesday 19th 2011 at New Delhi thereby offering an end to the many speculations that cropped in prior the reshuffle.
Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president was seen meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday 18th 2011 for about two hours in order to finalize and decide on the cabinet shuffle for the union council of ministers.
Although several speculations were there prior the reshuffle regarding the nature of reshuffle and different versions were also being put up for the same, yet it was very clear for all that the “big four” at the cabinet ministry – Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Home Minister P. Chidmabaram, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna – will surely retain their responsibilities and portfolios.
Three new ministers from the cabinet were elevated from their rank of minister of state while 3 new ministers of state were inducted in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) II government, which is about 19 months old. The reshuffle is being looked up as an exercise by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to better the image of his ministry and free it up from the charges of corruption scandals and non-performance. The new ministers took the oaths of office and secrecy at the Ashoka Hall in Rastrapati Bhavan in the presence of President of India, Pratibha Patil who administered the whole process. Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Cabinet ministers and several dignitaries were also present at the oath ceremony.
The first cabinet reshuffle of 2011 saw the promotion of Praful Patel, Salman Khursheed and Shriprakash Jaiswal to the cabinet ministry. K.C. Venugopal, Ashwani Kumar and Beni Prasad Berma were sworn in as new ministers of state.
Following this large-scale reshuffle, the responsibility of water resources was given to Khursheed along with the additional charge of minority affairs. Patel took over the charge of heavy industries and public enterprises while though getting promotion for the good work done, Jaiswal retained his portfolio.
The overseas Indian affairs minister, Vayalar Ravi, got the additional charge of aviation.
Surprisingly, S Jaipal Reddy was given the charge of petroleum and natural gas in the cabinet shuffle.
Beni Prasad Verma, who had been Cabinet minister in the 1996 United Front government, got the MoS Independent Charge at the reshuffle. He got the portfolio of steel.
Murli Deora was shifted from the portfolio of petroleum and natural gas to corporate affairs.
Reddy has been changed from the urban development ministry that now lies with Kamal Nath. Kamal Nath’s existing portfolio of road transport and highways has now been given to C P Joshi.
Praful Patel, NCP, was elevated to the Cabinet Ministry with a shift from the civil aviation to heavy industries and public enterprises and Khursheed has been shifted from corporate affairs portfolio to water resources.
Jaiswal retained his portfolio of coal while moving up to the Cabinet Ministry.
Maken, was shifted from his portfolio of MoS home affairs to youth affairs and sports as MoS Independent charge.
Prof K V Thomas, who was responsible for MoS consumer affairs, food and public distribution before the reshuffle, was elevated as MoS with Independent charge in the same section.
This cabinet reshuffle saw some induction of new faces and the coming back of some after a long gap. Ashwani Kumar came back to the government as the minister of state for the portfolio of parliamentary affairs, planning, science and technology and earth sciences.
K C Venugopal is among the new entrant who got the portfolio of Power as MoS.
M S Gill was moved from sports and youth affairs to the portfolio of statistics and program implementation.
The Congress veteran from Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh was changed from the portfolio of steel to micro, small and medium Enterprises. Vilasrao Deshmukh was changed ferom heavy industries and public enterprises to rural development. Vilasrao Deshmukh was also given the additional charge of Panchayati Raj.
The portfolio of Kamal Nath was changed from road and transport to urban development. The overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi was given the additional charge of civil aviation.
Kapil Sibal, who was earlier responsible for telecom following the exit of A Raja, retained both HRD and telecom after the reshuffle. Pawan Kumar Bansal, who retained the parliamentary affairs, got science and technology and earth sciences.
B K Handique was changed from the mines portfolio and was given the responsibility of development of northeastern region. C P Joshi was shifted from rural development to road transport and highways.
Selja was moved from Tourism portfolio and was given the additional charge of culture ministry whilst keeping the housing and urban poverty alleviation.
Subodh Kant Sahay at the reshuffle has been shifted from food processing industries to tourism.
The minister of state with independent charge, Dinsha Patel, has been shifted from micro, small and medium enterprises to the portfolio of mines.
With this reshuffle Union Council of Ministers stands at a total of 81 ministers consisting of 35 Cabinet ministers, six MoS with Independent charges while the remaining are ministers of state.
In this cabinet reshuffle of 19th January 2011, no minister has been dropped. This has been described by the Prime Minister Manmohan Sing as “minor”. He also said that a “more expansive exercise” will be undertaken following the Budget Session of Parliament.
Coming Back of Ashwani Kumar as Minister
Ashwani Kumar had been a MP of Punjab MP, a Minister of the State, Science and Technology and Parliamentary Affairs. 50 year old, Fifty eight-year-old Ashwani Kumar, who joined UPA-II Cabinet list of lawyer-turned ministers, saw a major come back in the Union government following the recent cabinet reshuffle, after a long gap.
Ashwani Kumar happens to practice as a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court and has a political family back ground. Earlier one of the national spokes person for the Congress, Ashwani Kumar is the son of the former Punjab assembly Speaker, Prabodh Chandra. Born in the capital city of Delhi, Kumar has written many articles on economic reforms, law, democracy and international affairs and elections. Kumar was also India’s additional ex- solicitor general and got elected at the Rajya Sabha in the year 2002. He was then the minister of state of industries in the UPA-I. Apart from being an active parliamentarian Ashwani Kumar was also a renowned member of the committee on public accounts and external affairs.
Is Beni Prasad Verma Happy?
Beni Prasad Verma, a member of the Parliament from Uttar Pradesh, was given the charge of Minister of State, Steel (Independent Charge). For most part of his political career, Verma engaged in anti-Congress activism and after a long gap of about a decade, got back to the Union Council of Ministers. This 70 year old Beni Prasad Verma, a prominent leader from the state of Uttar Pradesh served as the Union minister for Communications in between the years 1996 and 1998, in the time of the United Front regime. Although entrusted with a new portfolio and new responsibilities, yet owing certain circumstances made people think as to whether Beni Prasad Verma is happy with his current role, following the recent cabinet reshuffle of 2011. Post the cabinet reshuffle process, it appeared like Verma was unhappy for not being made the Cabinet Minster. Just after the reshuffle, Beni Prasad Verma was found closeted with his close supporters at his home, following the swearing-in ceremony. He did not even come to receive the greetings from his followers who were present there with bouquets and sweets.
Later on however, he was found expressing to the media about his faith on Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president. To quote him- “I am a soldier of Congress party.” When questioned about his becoming the cabinet minister, he said- “May be. I will keep it as a suspense, I will not tell you what it is.”
He added further that “I have got more respect in Congress than in Samajwadi party,”.
Venugopal: The Young Face!
The single new minister to join the ministry of Manmohan Singh is K C Venugopal, the 1st time Lok Sabha MP from the state of Kerala. With his ministerial appearance for the first time at the Centre, this young face at the Union government is an MP from Alapuzha. Forty Seven year old K C Venugopal was lucky enough to have got power very quickly by catching hold of the slot of minister of state in the power ministry.
Ashwani Kumar and Beni Prasad Verma, the new ministers at the UPA following the reshuffle and minor expansion on Wednesday 19th, 2011, along with K C Venugopal, earlier have been Union Ministers.
A volleyball player at the university level and an ardent sports lover, K C Venugopal came in owing Shashi Tharoor’s exit from the ministry because of the IPL controversy. The entry of Venugopal into the ministry is being believed to be move to influence and persuade the Nair Community prior to the Kerala Assembly Elections in the month of May.
NEW DELHI: In the first major revamp of his Council of Ministers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday inducted three new ministers of state and promoted three to Cabinet rank while reshuffling some portfolios. Here is the list of the changes:
- Praful Patel: Heavy industries and public enterprises
- Salman Khursheed: Water resources and additional charge of minority affairs
- Sriprakash Jaiswal: Coal
Ministers of State
- KC Venugopal: Power
- Ashwani Kumar: Planning and parliamentary affairs, science and technology, and earth sciences
Minister of State (Independent Charge)
- Ajay Maken: Youth affairs and sports
- KV Thomas: Consumer affairs, food and public distribution
- Beni Prasad Verma: steel
The portfolios of the following ministers have also been changed:
- Sharad Pawar: Agriculture and food processing industries
- Vilasrao Deshmukh: Rural development and additional charge of Panchayati Raj
- Virbhadra Singh: Micro, small and medium enterprises
- S Jaipal Reddy: Petroleum and natural gas
- Vayalar Ravi: Overseas Indian affairs and additional charge of civil aviation
- Kamal Nath: Urban development
- Murli Deora: Corporate affairs
- BK Handique: Development of north-eastern region
- Kapil Sibal: Human resource development and additional charge of communications and information technology
- CP Joshi: Road transport and highways
- Subodh Kant Sahay: Tourism
- Kumari Selja: Housing and urban poverty alleviation and additional charge of culture
- M.S. Gill: Statistics and programme implementation
- Pawan Kumar Bansal: Parliamentary affairs and additional charge of science and technology and earth sciences
- Harish Rawat: Agriculture and food processing industries
- E Ahamed: External affairs
- V Narayanasamy: Parliamentary affairs and personnel, public grievances and pensions and Prime Minister’s Office
- Sai Prathap: Heavy industries and public enterprises
- Gurudas Kamat: Home affairs
- Bharatsinh Solanki: Railways
- Mahadev S Khandela : Tribal affairs
- Jitin Prasada: Road transport and highways
- RPN Singh: Petroleum and natural gas and corporate affairs
- Arun Yadav: Agriculture and food processing industries
- Tusharbhai Chaudhary: Road transport and highways
- Pratik Prakashbapu Patil: coal
- Vincent Pala: Water resources and minority affairs
- Dinsha Patel: Mines