Moily to head Law Ministry, Sibal gets HRDMay 29th, 2009 | By Elections2009 | Category: Lead
New Delhi Bureau
|Road Transport for Kamal Nath; Commerce for Anand Sharma; Health for Azad; Labour for Kharge|
NEW DELHI: Kapil Sibal will be the new Human Resource Development Minister and M. Veerappa Moily will be in charge of Law, while Ambika Soni will move to the Information & Broadcasting Ministry in the new governance arrangement unveiled here on Thursday night.
While Murli Deora, A. Raja and Sushil Kumar Shinde get to keep their earlier Ministries — Petroleum & Natural Gas, Communications & Information Technology, and Power — Vilasrao Deshmukh has been given Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises and Ghulam Nabi Azad, Health & Family Welfare.
young & old: Agatha Sangma (28), the youngest member of the Council of Ministers, greets senior leaders after she was sworn in Minister of State, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Thursday. The oldest member of the Manmohan Singh team is External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who is 77.
Kamal Nath has been moved out of Commerce & Industry to Road Transport and Highways, and Anand Sharma brought in in his place. Farooq Abdullah gets New and Renewable Energy, while S. Jaipal Reddy and Vayalar Ravi retain their old portfolios. C.P. Joshi will be the new Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister, while Mallikarjun Kharge gets Labour and Employment.
M.K. Azhagiri will preside over Chemicals and Fertilizers and P.K. Bansal will be the Parliamentary Affairs Minister. Mukul Wasnik gets Social Justice and Empowerment in place of Meira Kumar, who moves to the Ministry of Water Resources.
Among the Ministers of State with independent charge, Salman Khursheed gets Corporate Affairs and Minority Affairs. Prithviraj Chavan, curiously enough, will be MoS (Independent charge) for Earth Sciences and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Personnel. Jairam Ramesh will be MoS (Independent charge) for Environment and Forests while Krishna Tirath will handle Women and Child Development.
Shashi Tharoor will be a Minister of State for External Affairs along with Preneet Kaur, while young Agatha Sangma will be in the Rural Development Ministry. Ajay Maken will be a Minister of State for Home.
Earlier in the day, 59 new ministers were sworn in by President Pratibha Patil. In a brief interaction with the media, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s explanation for the delay in Ministry formation was that “it was a thorough exercise.” He described the Council of Ministers as a “mix of experience and youthful energy.” About non-inclusion of senior Congressmen such as Shivraj Patil, Arjun Singh, H.R. Bhardwaj and Saifuddin Soz, he said there were other avenues of public service where their experience and wisdom could be used.
As to why there was no representation for Uttar Pradesh in the Cabinet, Dr. Singh said there were several considerations while making the selection and cited availability of talent as one of them. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul went a step further and maintained that the State was adequately represented in the Ministry. “Isn’t Minister of State (MoS) enough? There are two with independent charge, besides three Ministers of State,” she said.
When it was pointed out that the State had not got even one Cabinet rank Minister, Ms. Gandhi quipped, pointing to her son: “Here is the reason. He is refusing to become a Minister. He wants to work for the party.” Asked whether she would have liked him to join the Ministry, her answer was: “I left it to him; it was his decision.”
For his part, Mr. Rahul Gandhi maintained that he was not the kind of person who can multi-task. “Others may be able to do several jobs at a time, but I prefer to do one job at a time and do it well.”
Lamenting the way U.P. and Bihar were lagging behind, he said a more fundamental change had to be offered to the people. “The people of U.P. have got only caste and religion-based politics in the past 20 years. They have to be given something that holds out hope. We have been working silently on this front for the past five years. You will see results in three years.”
With Ms. Gandhi dwelling on democratisation of the Youth Congress, she was asked whether she would try to replicate the “successful” experiment in the Congress. Her answer was a non-committal “They have started a process; let us see.” Responding to the charge that the Congress was being arrogant and using its numbers to dictate terms to allies, Mr. Rahul Gandhi shot back: “Sticking to principles does not mean we are being arrogant.” And, though he opted out of the Ministry, his ‘imprint’ is in the government in the form of youngsters who have got a share of the governance pie.
With Thursday’s induction of 59 Ministers, the strength of the Manmohan Singh team goes up to 79, just three short of the constitutional cap of 82.