iconimg Monday, August 31, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 31, 2012
This is as official as it gets.

The Prime Minister's Office has restored the list of council of ministers on its website that places defence minister AK Antony at the Number 2 position, right after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The list was taken off soon after Pranab Mukherjee - widely acknowledged as Number 2 in the PM's cabinet - moved to Rashtrapati Bhavan in July, vacating the seat next to Singh at the cabinet meetings.

There were bruised egos in the NCP after Antony was asked to occupy this seat at a subsequent cabinet meeting. This stand, some NCP leaders argued, overlooked agriculture minister Sharad Pawar who has an equally distinguished political career and experience.

The PMO and cabinet secretariat officials had initially suggested that the list was not in any particular order. But not many had bought the argument, prompting them to remove the list from their websites.

Soon after the NCP ministers decided to boycott a cabinet meeting in protest, the PM then convened a meeting with the NCP brass to resolve the issue.

It ended with the PM successfully placating its ally, hailing Pawar as a 'very valued colleague' whose knowledge and experience were a "great asset" to the coalition. On its part, the NCP blamed the media for blowing the issue out of proportion.

The PMO, however, did not restore the list of ministers - an icon, 'PM's Team', on its website only had a list of ministers of state. But the cabinet secretariat quickly issued a list of groups of ministers, many of them headed by Pawar.

The absence of an authoritative list after Sunday's reshuffle led to confusion about the changes and a handful of errors in the list put out by the website managers of the government's portal,www.india.gov.in.

The PMO moved swiftly, updated the list with Pawar's name coming after Antony's; followed by that of finance minister P Chidambaram.