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Young faces in key places

The eagerly anticipated reshuffle of the union council of ministers brought in young faces in key positions and rewarded loyalty, but could be found deficient in negotiating a balancing act in regional representation. HT reports.Cabinet goes for a makeover | VOTE: Are you impressed with Manmohan's cabinet after reshuffle? | Change of guard

delhi Updated: Oct 29, 2012 02:06 IST
HT Correspondent

The eagerly anticipated reshuffle of the union council of ministers brought in young faces in key positions and rewarded loyalty, but could be found deficient in negotiating a balancing act in regional representation.

The reshuffle, also geared for giving a fillip to the recent reforms push of the government, put some key ministries under the control of reform enthusiasts.

While the average age of the union cabinet has reduced only marginally - from 59.6 to 58.9 - the youth emphasis is visible in the selection of ministers of state with independent charge.

Manish Tewari joined this club with Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot and Jitendra Singh, among others. All four leaders are considered very close to Rahul Gandhi.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 80, is the oldest member of the council, while Pilot, 35, is the youngest minister.

"It is a combination of youth and experience," Singh said after the reshuffle. Change of guard

He also added that he "doesn't see" the possibility of an "early election" but admitted that "the road ahead is full of challenges".

The next general election is due in May 2014 - 18 months from now.

Gandhi, however, denied having influenced the reshuffle: "I don't decide these things."

President Pranab Mukherjee is seen with Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and newly sworn-in ministers at Rashtrapati Bhavan. PTI

But, his mark is evident in the promotion of Scindia, Pilot and Jitendra Singh. Cabinet ministers

Dalit leader Kodikunnil Suresh from Kerala - the new minister of state for labour and employment - is also his pick.

The PM also stood by people considered close to him - Ashwani Kumar was promoted in the cabinet with the crucial law and justice portfolio.

Shashi Tharoorstaged a comeback as minister of state for human resource development, two years after he resigned as minister of state for external affairs.

While Kumar is being rewarded for his articulate and spirited defence of the PM and government in difficult situations, Tharoor is being rehabilitated after none of the allegations against him were proven.

A combination picture of various ministers who were sworn-in on Sunday.

The new look of the council of ministers is also in tune with the emphasis on reforms in recent weeks.

After a long gap, the railways - a sector crying for reforms - is back with the Congress and the new minister, Pawan Bansal, quickly announced that Indian Railways will participate actively in the reforms process and passenger fares may be hiked to make rail transportation "viable".

Power, allotted to Scindia, is another sector that needs a good dose of reforms. The PM considers power and infrastructure to be the two key areas that require urgent attention. MoS (independent charge)

While Pilot will have the task of pushing the Companies Bill, Kumar is yet another enthusiastic reformer.

An articulate Salman Khurshid will not only be the international face of a market-friendly government, but also, a political symbol - being a Muslim foreign minister.

The UPA, which often faced stormy Parliament sessions, has also brought in experienced Kamal Nath as the new parliamentary affairs minister. Ministers of state

Andhra Pradesh and Kerala got good representation in the council and cabinet, but eastern states, such as Odhisa, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and the entire Northeast are not represented in the union cabinet.

Leaders from Maharashtra, who expected to find a slot in the council, are disappointed.

While the reshuffle cheered many, among those who may find it difficult to digest are Jaipal Reddy, Vilas Muttemwar and V Narayanaswamy.

Reddy has been shifted out of the high-profile petroleum ministry to science and technology and earth sciences.

Muttemwar failed to bag the slot left vacant after Vilasrao Deshmukh's death.

Narayansamy's status remained unchanged despite his active role in tackling the anti-Kudankulam protest.


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