In what could be termed as the last cabinet reshuffle before the 2014 general elections, eight new faces have been inducted into Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's council of ministers on Monday.
Four cabinet ministers and four ministers of state who were inducted took their oath at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday. Contrary to the expectations that young leaders would be inducted into the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the prime minister introduced veterans who have proven track record in the party. Jesu Das Seelam (60) is the youngest member to have been newly inducted.
Senior leaders from Rajasthan, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have been inducted as cabinet ministers to fill vacant portfolios like railways and highways.
Gandhi loyalist Oscar Fernandes from Karnataka returned to the cabinet after four years. He has been given the portfolio of roadways and highways. Labour minister Mallikarjuna Kharge was shifted to the railways ministry, following the resignation of Pawan Kumar Bansal, who has been under the scanner in connection with an alleged bribery scandal involving his nephew Vijay Singla. Kharge is the sixth railways minister in four years.
Sis Ram Ola from Rajasthan has been given the portfolio of labour and employment. Girija Vyas, also from Rajasthan, will be the minister for housing and poverty alleviation. The other new face inducted in the cabinet is Kavuri Sambasiva Rao.
Those inducted as ministers of state include EMS Sudarsana Natchiyappan, Jesu Das Seelam, Manikrao Gavit and Santosh Chowdhury. This is the fourth major reshuffle in UPA-II. With the induction of new faces, the strength of the council of ministers has gone up to 77.
Oscar Fernandes (72) - Roads and Highways Ministry
Girija Vyas (67) - Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister
Sis Ram Ola (86) - Labour and Employment Minister
Kavuri Sambasiva Rao (69) - Textiles Ministry
Ministers of State
EMS Sudarsana Natchiyappan (65) - MoS commerce and industry
Jesu Das Seelam (60) - MoS Finance
Manikrao Gavit (79) - Social Justice and Empowerment
Santosh Chowdhury (69) - Health and Family Welfare