Reshuffle ruffles feathers, leaves many unhappy | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Reshuffle ruffles feathers, leaves many unhappy

PM's 'minor' changes have left several ministers sulking, many didn't even bother to hide their dissatisfaction.

delhi Updated: Jan 20, 2011 00:53 IST
Srinand Jha

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's latest round of cabinet reshuffle, although considered to be a minor one by political observers, has left a trail of sulking ministers.

Even a promotion to the cabinet rank failed to cheer up Salman Khurshid. For, it had been widely speculated that Khurshid would take over the law portfolio from M Veerappa Moily. He got the water resources ministry instead.

Some of the other ministers who had been moved around - Beni Prasad Verma, Virbhadra Singh and Shrikant Jena - did little to suppress their dissatisfaction with either changes in portfolios or new portfolios.

Minister of state (MoS) for steel with independent charge Verma openly refused to be greeted by his supporters.

"Beni Babu held a full-fledged cabinet rank 14 years ago. It is natural for him to feel let down," one of his supporters said apologetically.

Interestingly, Verma was unhappy even in 1996 when he was first inducted as MoS. Within a few days, then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda made him a cabinet minister in charge of telecommunications.

Without denying his rancour, Verma recited, "I am a party loyalist. Whatever tasks the party entrusts, I will try to fulfill to the best of my abilities."

Virbhadra Singh - one of the senior-most MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha - made his displeasure known over the decision to shift him from steel to micro, small and medium industries. He openly asked around about the exact location of his new office.

"I was an MoS for industries in the Indira Gandhi government in 1980," he said.

Another important name in the list of sulking ministers is Orissa's Shrikant Jena, MoS for chemicals and fertilisers. Even when being inducted as an MoS in 2009, he made his unhappiness apparent.

His grouse: he held the cabinet rank in the United Front government in 1996. What's more, the party leadership reportedly assured him in 2009 that justice would be done to him.

Most apparent was MS Gill's reaction after being shifted from sports to statistics and programme implementation ministry. He refused to talk to reporters waiting outside Rashtrapati Bhawan.