New Delhi, Apr 6: Keeping in mind the coming electoral battles, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expanded his Council of Ministers, inducting seven Ministers of State to infuse young blood and experience in his four-year-old ministry. The new ministers are: Dr M S Gill, Mr V Narayansamy, Mr Santosh Bagrodia, Mr Raghunath Jha, Dr Rameshwar Oraom, Mr Jyotirarditya Scindia and Mr Jitin Prasada. The new ministers were sworn in at a brief ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil. The Prime Minister, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, leaders of the Left parties, union Cabinet Ministers and senior civil and military officials attended the ceremony. With this expansion, the strength of the Congress-led UPA Ministry has gone up to 80.
There are 32 Cabinet Ministers, including the Prime Minister, seven Ministers of State with Independent charge and 41 Ministers of State. Earlier in the day, six Ministers of State, who have been drafted by the Congress for party work, resigned from the Council of Ministers. This was the fourth expansion-cum-reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers undertaken by the Prime Minister, after he assumed office on May 22,2004. The first expansion of the Council of Ministers took place in January 2006, the second in October 2006 and the third in May last year. Of the new ministers, six are from the Congress and one--Mr Raghunath Jha-- from the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Dr M S Gill, the former Chief Election Commissioner, is a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha. Mr Bagrodia and Mr Narayansamy are also members of the Upper House.
The other four are all members of the Lok Sabha.
Both Mr Scindia, the Lok Sabha member from Guna and the son of top Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia, and Mr Jitin Prasada, the member of the Lower House from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, are young and have been inducted into the government, obviously to attract the youth towards the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, which goes to the polls later this year.
Mr Narayansamy, the Rajya Sabha member from Puducherry, is the Secretary of the Congress party and a loyalist of the Nehru-Gandhi family while Mr Bagrodia is also among those considered close to the Congress President. He is a Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan which too is scheduled to go to the polls later this year.
Dr Oraon, the Lok Sabha member from Lohardaga, has been given a ministerial berth to give representation to Jharkhand in the Manmohan Singh ministry.
Mr Raghunath Jha is a trusted lieutenant of RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
Dr Gill brings to the government rich and varied administrative experience.