Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's new team got down to work Monday with new ministers taking charge and old ones relinquishing responsibilities after a mega revamp of the council of ministers that saw 15 new faces and many key ministries changing hands.
The major shake-up of the government
Sunday, possibly the last before the 2014 general elections, saw Salman Khurshid taking over as India's new foreign minister, Pawan Kumar Bansal being made the new man to helm the railways ministry, M. Veerappa Moily being given petroleum and M.M. Pallam Raju being made human resource development minister.
S. Jaipal Reddy got science and technology and Kamal Nath got additional charge of parliamentary affairs besides urban development.
Amongst the ministers of state sworn in were Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari who got independent charge of information and broadcasting. Earlier with Ambika Soni, the ministry has been downgraded.
The exercise that sought to jettison perception of passivity in governance comes just ahead of two critical assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.
"It is a combination of youth and experience," Manmohan Singh said Sunday after the ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan where President Pranab Mukherjee administered the oath of office.
"The road ahead is full of challenges," he said, expressing hope that this was the last such exercise before his UPA-II government heads for elections.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi did not join the government - leaving the field open for him to play a larger role in the party.
Seventeen new faces were inducted Sunday of which two ministers were of cabinet rank.
Of the seven new ministers sworn in with cabinet rank, two are debutants -- former Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson K. Rahman Khan and Congress MP Chandresh Kumari Katoch. The other five - Ajay Maken, M.M. Pallam Raju, Dinsha Patel, Harish Rawat and Ashwini Kumar - have been elevated to cabinet rank.
Fifteen ministers of state were also sworn in.
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