While it relied heavily on younger faces for the organisational team, the Congress opted for an older brigade for its cabinet.
President Pranab Mukherjee administering oath to newly inducted minister Sisram Ola, at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times)
Among the eight new ministers inducted into the team of Manmohan Singh, Jesudasu Seelam (60) was the youngest while Sis Ram Ola (86) was most experienced.
In fact, the average age of the eight new members of the Union council of ministers is 71.
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Congress observers were expecting the induction of youngsters like Meenakshi Natarajan and Manika Tagore into the cabinet, especially after the former was dropped as the secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC).
But the party brass decided otherwise.
The tone of the cabinet reshuffle can perhaps be gauged from the fact that Manikrao H Gavit (79) was made the MoS for social justice & empowerment.
Gavit, a nine-time MP, is the senior-most member of the current Lok Sabha.
A few months ago, when Congres vice-president Rahul Gandhi was interacting with Maharashtra leaders, he was surprised to know that Gavit is not a minister despite his seniority.
“For the elections, we also have to depend on experienced leaders. The Union cabinet already has some young faces so this time, the leadership correctly decided to bring in some veterans,” a senior cabinet minister said.
The absence of young faces also made the latest round of reshuffle different from such exercises undertaken in the past few years where every time, young faces were given preference over the experienced.
Earlier in the day, newly appointed chief spokesperson for the Congress, Ajay Maken refuted allegations that the party had only promoted seniors this time in the organisational rejig.
“This is the youngest AICC team the Congres s has ever delivered in the recent past," he said.