Act II of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s two-part reshuffle could have many necks on the chopping block — not one or two, but eight to 10 among those already served the “yellow card” with transfers to lesser ministries.
Age, image, performance, domicile, identity and aptitude will, to the extent possible, influence the division of human resources for government and party assignments. Besides the obvious names that’ll be thrown up in the list of discards, elimination is a byproduct of selection in such exercises.The government’s final shape will arise out of the Congress revamp, part of which will be the reworked Congress working committee and the team of new office bearers. Enlistment of leaders for party work is expected to create room for promotion and induction of younger MPs in the council of ministers. The objective is to have a mix of youth and experience in the government.
“Consultations to redo the Congress setup might begin in a day or two,” said an official. He said deserving young faces weren’t promoted in the first go for want of finding matching spaces for seniors like Gurudas Kamat, V Narayanswamy and Vilas Muttamwar.
That the exercise is only midway through is evident also from Vayalar Ravi’s concurrent charge of civil aviation and Narayanswamy’s deputation to the PMO. Their job profiles will change in the next round with aviation getting another incumbent and the PM firming up on a successor to Prithiviraj Chavan.
It was virtually by default that certain ministers bagged impressive portfolios. Vilasrao Deshmukh got rural development on the strength of his experience as CM. CP Joshi’s exit was on account of his temperament — incompatible with rural affairs, but best for ensuring efficiency in roads and transport. Those perceived as having lost by default include Salman Khursheed and Beni Prasad Verma. The former got a promotion with a portfolio below expectations. The latter got a berth lesser than the cabinet rank he had in the 1996-98 United Front regime.
An objective assessment of water resources shows that it’s no mean charge. With a new water policy in the pipeline, it needs an environment ministry like focus. Likewise, a senior slot for Verma and promotions for Khursheed and Sriprakash Jaiswal would have meant three cabinet ministers from UP.
That was considered disproportionate in an exercise that was more of a reshuffle than expansion. Prospects of an early elevation for the Kurmi strongman aren’t discounted. Till that happens, the independent charge of steel ministry is good enough.