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UPA's cabinet reshuffle: Eying multiple goals from one shot
The Congress-led UPA government carried out its last ministerial reshuffle before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on Sunday. In total 22 ministers were given oath of office by the President Pranab Mukherjee.

OF THE 22, seven took oath as cabinet ministers, two as minister of states with independent charge and 13 were inducted as state ministers. This makeover is seen as government's attempt towards achieving multiple goals in one shot.


“Currently, the central government and the Congress are facing toughest challenges. They have the challenge of improving their image in foreign media, which is critical of the government's working style. They have the task of giving appropriate representation to the various states due to elections and other reasons. There are many other challenges before the PM, which he tried to tackle with the current cabinet reshuffle. Overall I will say that now the Congress cannot make the excuse of alliance politics or compulsions as the 85% minister in the council of ministers are from the Congress itself,” Awadhesh Kumar, a senior political analyst, told this citizen journalist .

First, the reshuffle is seen as a step towards giving recognition to the favorites of the Congress scion Rahul Gandhi. Sachin Pilot who was MoS in telecom ministry has been promoted as minister of state for corporate affairs with independent charge. Similarly, Jyotiraditya Scindia who was MoS commerce has been given independent charge of power ministry.

Secondly, with this reshuffle the government also tried to increase the representation of certain states at centre such as Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, where the party was loosing the plot due to political ups and downs. In Andhra, Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of late and former CM Rajshekhar Reddy has surfaced as a big challenge for the Congress. Similarly in West Bengal, the Congress wanted to strengthen its presence after the break-up with TMC by inducting three ministers from the state.

“The PM has said that this council of ministers is a mix of young, energetic and experience people, which will be able to deal with the challenges ahead. However, the problem is that when you give priority to political ambitions then you may have to compromise with regional balance and when you give priority to regional balance, you have to compromise with the quality. Similarly to address any revolt, again you have to compromise with the quality and the experience. Digvijay Singh has already expressed his disappointment while saying that though the reshuffle is the PM's privilege, but he is not happy with the ignorance of the MP. In Andhra Pradesh Jagan Mohan Reddy has surfaced a big challenge for the Congress. To tackle him, six ministers were given place in the cabinet from Andhra. From West Bengal also there are three ministers (in the wake of Mamta challenge),” said Kumar.

The latest and the last reshuffle also witnessed some resignations of ministers and change in the portfolios. The UPA government, which is surrounded by many corruption charges took resignations from heavy weights like of Ambika Sony, SM Krishna, Subodh Kant Sahai etc.

The resignation of Ambika Soni may be the result of her failure to control anti-government sentiment in the media. The departure of Subodh Kant Sahai was a result of coalgate, in which he is accused of recommending name of one of his relatives for the coal block allotment.

In a bid to give new energy to the aging council of ministers, SM Krishna, who is 80, had been asked to put in his papers. Moreover, SM Krishna's tenure had not been remarkable enough also.

By changing the portfolio of Salman Khurshid from law to external affairs ministry, the Congress led government also tried to made it point blank that it is not affected by any charges of corruption either from the opposition parties or anti-corruption crusaders like Arvind Kejriwal. The party tried to send the message that the corruption are baseless and there will be no probe against Khurshid from its end. However, political pundits have a different take, who sees the chances of political fallout for the party due to to his pro-Salman stance.

“It seems the PM was in some sort of external pressure also. The minister of state for foreign affiars was already from minority community. Now the foreign minister is also a minority. See there are many issues going on in the world regarding terrorism and Iran. So there there may be a thinking with in the government that dealing with such issues via a muslim minister will have a good impact. But the Congress has to be answer the country why Salman Khurshid and Shashi Tharoor, who had been in question regarding IPL controversy, given promotions when Subodh Kant Sahai has been removed in the wake of coal scam,” added Kumar.
 


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