Kavuri, Seelam in Union Cabinet
Anita Saluja New Delhi: Setting his sights on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expanded his Union Cabinet that was...
Anita Saluja New Delhi: Setting his sights on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expanded his Union Cabinet that was necessitated for filling the two important portfolios of Railways and Road Transport and Highways, ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament. Significantly, Kapil Sibal retains both his portfolios of Telecom and Law, as he has to oversee drafting of the government affidavit to be filed in the Supreme Court on setting out the roadmap on conferring autonomy to the CBI.
Andhra Pradesh, which had sent the largest contingent of MPs, numbering 33, to the Lok Sabha in 2009, has now two more ministers in the Union Council of Ministers. Kavuri Sambasiva Rao took oath as Cabinet-rank Minister for Textiles, while J D Seelam was inducted as Minister of State for Finance. Seelam's induction is being seen as a bid to counter Jagan factor in Andhra Pradesh. He has been made Minister of State for Finance. Seelam has been working actively in Uttar Pradesh in the run-up to State Assembly elections.
In the AICC revamp on Sunday, Kavuri was named Permanent Invitee to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the party. There were no major surprises in the Cabinet rejig, probably the last before next year polls, which was meant primarily to fill up the vacancies. The induction of Kavuri into the government and the CWC is meant to mollify him as he was miffed over D Purandeshwari being made Minister of State for Commerce.
Expressing his gratitude to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi for the opportunity given to him, Kavuri said whatever his personal opinion on Telangana, he would work for the development of all the regions in a broader perspective. "I will do full justice to my assignment and try to bring about a visible change," he said.
Unsure of a repeat performance of 2009 tally in Andhra Pradesh, as the Congress High Command failed to live up to its promise of giving a separate state for Telangana, the party is once again seeking to woo the people of the State, giving two more ministries to representatives from Andhra Pradesh. Other new faces inducted into the Cabinet are from the election-going State of Rajasthan. Facing threat from the BJP leader Vasundhara Raje, who is the chief ministerial face of the BJP, a Jat leader from the State, Sis Ram Ola and a Brahmin Girija Vyas, were given ministerial positions in the Union Cabinet. The Cabinet reshuffle came as a shocker, as the average age of the newly-inducted ministers is over 71.
At one end is Sis Ram Ola, who is 85 and older than BJP patriarch L K Advani, and at the other end is J D Seelam, who is 59. Oscar Fernandes is 72, Girija Vyas is 66 and Kavuri Sambasiva Rao is 69. Among the Ministers of State, Manikrao Gavit is 78, E M Sudarshan Nachiappan is 65 and Santosh Chowdhury is 69. Mallikarjun Kharge, who lost the race to become Karnataka Chief Minister, has been given charge of the prestigious Railway Ministry, while old-timer and Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist Oscar Fernandes staged a comeback as Union Road Transport and Highways Minister.
He fills the vacancy caused by the resignation of C P Joshi, who is now AICC General Secretary. Sis Ram Ola has been made the new Labour & Employment Minister, as incumbent Kharge has been shifted to Railways. Former Union Minister and former National Commission for Women Chairperson Girija Vyas is the new Cabinet-rank Minister for Housing & Urban Poverty-Alleviation, filling the slot vacated by Ajay Maken, who was appointed as AICC General Secretary.
Other Ministers of State who took oath on Monday were: Manikrao Gavit from Maharashtra - Social Justice & Empowerment; E M Sudarshan Nachiappan from Tamil Nadu - Commerce & Industry ; Santosh Chowdhury from Punjab - Health & Family Welfare. She has been inducted as replacement for Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Bansal, both from Punjab, who had had quit the Cabinet.