New Delhi: The Congress party on Wednesday played down the remarks made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the latest round of reshuffle of his Council of Ministers is the last before the Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital, Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi clarified, “The Prime Minister never meant that this was the last reshuffle of the Union Cabinet till the next General Elections.”
Brushing aside the fears of a rebellion in the party after the much-hyped reshuffle of the Union Cabinet, Singhvi said, “The Congress leadership completely backs the decision taken by the Prime Minister and there is no point in questioning his decision.”
The Congress spokesman completely rejected suggestions that some senior ministers were sidelined in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle and assured that there was complete harmony within the party.
Singhvi, however, refused to entertain questions on Gurudas Kamat’s refusal of the post and former Law Minister’s Veerappa Moily’s disturbing statements that vested interest were responsible in his shifting to the Corporate Affairs Ministry.
“The matter is between Mr Kamat and the high command and I have nothing to comment on it,” he told the curious reporters.
The explanation from the Congress comes hours after the Prime Minister said that the reshuffle reflects a "balance necessary between various states, consideration of efficiency, consideration of continuity" in the government. "As far as I am concerned this is the last reshuffle before we go to polls (in 2014)," Singh said, adding "This exercise is as comprehensive as possible."
He said this while talking to reporters after the swearing-in of the 11 ministers at Rashtrapati Bhavan yesterday.
The latest rejig of the Union Cabinet has drawn a thumbs down from the political analysts and the Opposition parties and some unhappy Congress ministers, who aired their views in media for being punished and shunted to much lighter ministries in the exercise.
Giving credence to the reports of rebellion inside the party, unhappy Congress leader from Maharashtra Gurudas Kamat resigned yesterday while Veerappa Moily blamed vested interest behind his shifting Corporate Affairs Ministry.
On the other hand, Srikant Jena boycotted the oath-taking function in protest against being given an insignificant Ministry under independent charge.
Unable to hide his anguish at being moved out of the Law Ministry, Moily listed his achievement and slammed the media for character assassination.
Kamat was elevated as Minister of State with independent charge. He was given the newly created Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, carved out from the Rural Development Ministry. Earlier, he was MoS in the Home Affairs and Telecom.
Kamat, who sent his resignation to both Congress President Sonia Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh, said, "There is no question of any disappointment over the portfolio.... The reasons are totally personal and not any defiance of the party leadership as is being made out in certain sections of the media."
However, it made aptly clear that Kamat had expected a bigger infrastructural ministry. He has already been Minister of State twice and he was expecting civil aviation.
Like Kamat, Srikant Jena, who was also elevated as Minister of State with independent charge, boycotted the swearing-in ceremony. Jena was given the independent charge of a small portfolio, Ministry of Statistics and Planning, with additional charge of his old portfolio as Minister of State in Fertilizers and Chemicals under the ever absent MK Alagiri.