NEW DELHI: Seven ministers were dropped, controversial minister Mr Jairam Ramesh was promoted but shifted from the high-profile Environment Ministry and Mr Veerappa Moily from Law in a substantive reshuffle of the Union cabinet on Tuesday.
Even after the much-talked about reshuffle, several ministers continued to hold additional charge of some key portfolios.
After carrying out the revamp, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh made it clear that he has kept two slots vacant for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) whose two ministers resigned under a cloud.
Dr 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.
Mr Ramesh, who stoked controversies by his handling of the Environment portfolio with his proactive approach, gets Rural Development from where Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh has been shifted to Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.
In another significant change, Dr Singh also took away the Law portfolio from Mr M Veerappa Moily in the light of several embarrassments to the government in the Supreme Court and brought Mr Salman Khursheed in the Ministry.
Against this backdrop, Mr Moily, who was shifted to Corporate Affairs, was visibly agitated when he said that the Law Ministry could not be blamed for “the sins of administrative ministries.”
Trinamool Congress leader, Mr Dinesh Trivedi has been elevated to the cabinet rank and given the Railways portfolio left vacant by Ms Mamata Banerjee after she became the West Bengal Chief Minister. Mr Beni Prasad Verma becomes a cabinet Minister for Steel, a portfolio he earlier held as a Minister of State with Independent charge.
The eight new entrants and three others who were elevated to the cabinet rank were sworn-in by the President, Ms Pratibha Patil at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presence of a host of dignitaries including the Vice President, Mr Hamid Ansari, the Prime Minister, UPA chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi and the Leader of Opposition, Ms Sushma Swaraj.
With Tuesday’s changes, the strength of the Union council of ministers goes up to 68 with eight inclusions and seven resignations. The other new faces in the council of ministers are Ms Jayanthi Natarajan who gets Environment and Forests, Dibrugarh MP Mr Paban Singh Ghatowar (DONER), Trinamool Congress leader, Mr Sudip Bandopadhyaya (Health and Family Welfare), Alwar MP Mr Jitendra
Singh (Home), Mr Milind Deora (Communication and IT) and Mr Rajiv Shukla (Parliamentary Affairs).
Tuesday’s exercise left Mr Srikant Jena not entirely satisfied over his elevation as the Minister of State with Independent Charge. However, he attended the ceremony.