The musical chairs in council of ministers

New Delhi, June 17 (IANS) Eight new ministers were inducted into Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s team Monday in the fourth major reshuffle of the cabinet and the council of ministers.

The first cabinet appointments of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the Congress, were made May 23, 2009, when seven cabinet ministers were appointed. Another 30 ministers were inducted May 28, 2009.

Since then, there have been six railway ministers, five ministers for water resources and four law and justice ministers.

The railways ministry portfolio, which was earlier held by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, was handed over to Dinesh Trivedi when Banerjee became West bengal chief minister in 2011.

Trivedi was soon asked to leave, and Mukul Roy took the charge in March 2012. After the Trinamool Congress left the UPA in September 2012, Congress leader C.P. Joshi was given the charge of the railway, followed by Pawan Kumar Bansal and Joshi again.

In Monday’s cabinet rejig, Mallikarjun Kharge has been given railways.

The Ministry of Water Resources has had five changes. Meira Kumar was the first appointee, who left soon after being made Lok Sabha speaker. The portfolio was then held by Pawan Kumar Bansal, followed by Salman Khurshid and Bansal again before finally settling with Harish Rawat.

The Ministry of Law and Justice has had four changes: M. Veerrapa Moily, Khushid, Ashwani Kumar and Kapil Sibal.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has had four changes as well: Khurshid, Murli Deora, Moily and Sachin Pilot.

The Ministry of Science and Technology has also had four changes: Prithviraj Chavan, Bansal, Vilasrao Deshmukh S. Jaipal Reddy.

Key ministries like finance and home have been comparatively stable, yet seen some change. The finance ministry was with Pranab Mukherjee, which he quit when he contested the president’s election. He was replaced by P. Chidambaram, who quit as home minister, paving the way for Sushilkumar Shinde.

The first major reshuffle after 2009 came in January 2011. It was called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an expansion, rather than a reshuffle after the UPA started witnessing turmoil over the 2G spectrum scandal. By then, UPA-II had seen two resignations: Minister of State for External Shashi Tharoor April 19, 2010, and telecom minister A. Raja Nov 15, 2010.

The second reshuffle came soon after on July 12, 2011. This was a major rejig that saw some ebeing elevated and some being shunted out.

In between, Ajit Singh was appointed civil aviation minister in December 2011, when the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) joined the UPA.

A year later, there was another reshuffle October 28, 2012. It came after Trinamool Congress withdrew support in September 2012 and several posts were left vacant. The reshuffle also saw a younger tinge being given to the council of ministers, handpicked by Rahul Gandhi. Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Manish Tewari, Jitendra Singh and Bharatsinh Solanki were all assigned independent charge of ministries.

This reshuffle, expected to be last before 2014 general elections, however saw age take over youth, with several veterans being given plum posts.

(Information compiled by think tank PRS Legislative Research.)

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