Cautious Rahul Gandhi puts performance above proximity
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While Rahul Gandhi did play a key role in Sunday's reshuffle, indicated by the promotion of many young Ministers of State, the Congress general secretary took care to ensure that the message that went out was that performance, rather than proximity to him, counted above all else.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, for instance, was said to be eyeing a more high-profile portfolio. Instead, he was divested of Drinking Water & Sanitation, which had been given to him after Gurudas Kamat refused to take charge of this ministry last year. Perceived as close to Rahul, Ramesh's stance on issues such as the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill was said to be guided by the the former's political agenda — or so it was projected.
Among the young Ministers of State who were promoted and given Independent charge were Rahul's close aide and Alwar MP Jitendra Singh (Youth Affairs & Sports), Jyotiraditya Scindia (Power) and Sachin Pilot (Corporate Affairs). Apart from the fact that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wanted to give a bigger role to young ministers in the decision-making process, they are all known to be competent ministers who showed a keen interest in their work.
While Minister of State Jitin Prasada was not promoted, he has been given two new portfolios of Defence and Human Resource Development. Prasada is also known to be a competent minister. However, there was no significant change in the status of Congress MP from Uttar Pradesh R P N Singh, although he did get the more high-profile Home portfolio.
Rahul was also said to have played a role in the induction of Ranee Narah (MoS, Tribal Affairs), an avid cricketer and former Assam Youth Congress president, as well as East Arunachal MP Ninong Ering (MoS, Minority Affairs) and Lalchand Kataria from Rajasthan (MoS, Defence). Former MoS, External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor's comeback is also attributed to his association with Rahul.