Cabinet Reshuffle: The Refurbished And New Stock

There is no dearth of erudite and well-qualified people in the United Progressive Alliance.

Most of the ministers, in the cabinet and otherwise, had studied from prestigious foreign universities, gained global recognition and are now retired IAS officers and Supreme Court lawyers.

However, abundance of riches and wealth can make you another Uncle Scrooge. Similarly, academic intelligence doesn’t ensure ethical standards. After a series of scandals, and an extended period of misgovernance, the Congress-led UPA Government inducted 22 ministers into the council;17 of them are first-timers.

Who Stole The Limelight?

The biggest piece of the cake was offered to Salman Khurshid and he obviously went on to grab it, trampling upon the chances of any fair probe in the recently exposed case, pertaining to financial malpractice by his NGO in Uttar Pradesh. His selection for the crucial portfolio was a hard slap on the aam admi’s(common man) face.

Khurshid, aged 59, replaced 80-year-old SM Krishna. Now, he will be the fortunate one to travel all around the world, stay in deluxe hotels and fly in Boeing Business and Embraer Jets –all of course funded by public exchequer. We will see photos of him standing beside the pretty Pakistani Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, chit-chatting, shaking hands and dining with his various counterparts from different countries.

As far as his work is concerned, yes, Foreign Ministers purportedly engage in a certain sort of meetings, inside air-conditioned conference halls occupied with grand tables and elegant upholstered chairs.

God knows what is really cooking up inside the room!

Every time they come out carrying an optimistic and thoughtful look, and simply declare that “the meeting was meaningful for favourable ties between the concerned nations”. Every time?

Thanksgiving to Rahul Gandhi

Rahul, like a moody bachcha (youngster) didn’t feel like playing this stupid game of musical chairs.

He wants his seat to be at the head of the table, his dream job to be known as one of the youngest Prime Ministers of India. It sounds legendary, but is unattainable because chances of a Rahul-led UPA-III after 2014 elections are next to impossible, to say the least.

Alas, just as in home parties, family members get to control the music, his preference towards members same as his age (termed the “youth”) was totally reflected in the recent Cabinet reshuffle.

Sachin Pilot was elevated to minister of State with an independent charge for corporate affairs in the recent Cabinet reshuffle. After the “balanced reshuffle”, as he terms it, Sachin Pilot is surely looking forward to driving high in the sky, and if India is planning to launch a manned space flight anytime soon, he must apply to get his hands on space too.

Though the media actually is regulated by many, it was Manish Tewari who got officially sworn in as the Information and Broadcasting minister. After assuming charge of his ministry, Tewari envisaged two primary goals – first, that there is “no let or favour” in the media and number two, “to see that the policies and programmes of the UPA government get disseminated”.

Manish Tewari had been loyal to the Congress Party during his term as the spokesperson. He will surely do his best to propagate UPA policies.

We are only doubtful about the success of the first part of his goals because, as yet, huge favours are given to media channels by a lot of influential personages, and paid news is no top secret, shared only by a few.

Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia, a young Congress MP from Madhya Pradesh, was appointed as Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power. He must take the “daunting challenge” seriously. If not, a single power blackout would lead to his way out from the ministry.

Ajay Maken, at 48 years of age, is the youngest Cabinet minister. In the recent reshuffle, he was made the Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation minister. And 50-year-old Pallam Raju is seen as the youngest HRD minister in recent memory.

So, it is basically not the young, but relatively younger population, considering the fact that Indian Politics has people double their age, such as Bal Thackeray (86), Lal Krishna Advani (85) and Manmohan Singh (80).

All “relatively” young leaders must write a “thank you” note to their messiah, Rahul Gandhi and work towards bringing a “generational change” in Indian Politics. Bravo!

Tentative?  Hopefully Not!

It is interesting that Pawan Kumar Bansal is the fifth minister to hold charge of the Railway Ministry since May 2011. In just one year and five months, this Ministry witnessed four ministers, who resigned or were forced to resign (as in Dinesh Trivedi’s case) one after the other.

So, Bansal must first ensure that he has a tight hold on the portfolio, and then work towards repairing the broken seats and chains in the train and maintaining hygiene and cleanliness on the terminal stations, but please, cautiously –without increasing the fare much.

A TV news channel quoted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as saying, “This is hopefully the last cabinet reshuffle before 2014 elections and we hope that it is last for railways too.”

Corrupt, Yet Inducted

Shashi Tharoor, who was a villain until yesterday, has made a comeback. His induction itself was a controversy, and afterwards, Narendra Modi’s comment on Shashi Tharoor’s “50 crore girlfriend” sparked a fire, leading to heated arguments among various BJP and Congress leaders.

A Bigger “Role” In Politics

The gush of characters from glamourous industries (Bollywood, Tollywood, and even cricket) in politics is not just limited to the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha anymore.

Actor-turned politician K.Chiranjeevi was inducted as Minister of State with Independent Charge of Tourism, in the reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers. Let’s hope everything ends happily ever after and he plays the role well.

Just For a Change

Kunwar Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh, who was the Union Minister of State, Petroleum and Natural Gas and Corporate Affairs, has taken over as Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs of India. Help Sushil Kumar Shinde (Union Cabinet Minister, Home Affairs) whenever he is drained of power. Don’t let him black out.

M. Veerappa Moily was shifted to Ministry of Petroleum from Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

They have been moved just for a routine change, so that work doesn’t get too monotonous.

Man With a Mission

Mines Minister Dinsha Patel, who was elevated to Cabinet rank, expressed the hope that the new Mines Bill would be passed in the Winter Session of Parliament, paving the way for development of tribal areas besides curbing illegal mining.

If the new Parliamentary Affairs Minister does his duty well, then it possibly would be passed. Kamal Nath got additional charge of Parliamentary Affairs, besides Urban Development. He must juggle well between the two heavy tasks, and also help our new mine minister fulfill his aspiration.

 One Less

While Kamal Nath was served extra toppings, there were some who were allowed to eat, but sugar free.

For instance, the Railways portfolio was being held by C P Joshi as an additional charge since Trinamool Congress quit the government last month. It was given to Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Similarly, Kapil Sibal had to give up his HRD portfolio.

There are many more who lost their additional charges. Prominent leaders like S.M. Krishna and Ambika Soni resigned.

But how does it all matter?

At the end of the day, the whole reshuffle was an aimless activity.

This rearrangement will only limit the pace of work (if it could be done at all) in the remaining two years. It is meant to do nothing but induce wastage of time.

The ministers will be removed from their respective portfolios even before they really adapt to it.

The first timers will not be all that efficient and the experienced ones are much acquainted with the functioning of the Indian Government. They will not work, whichever department they are shifted to.

Seriously, all those inducted are truly harbingers of change. The worst is yet to come. Yes, worse. Hang on! In Indian context, what else could the word “change” mean?

Sakshi Tirthani

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