New Delhi, Jan 19 (PTI) No minister was dropped butthere were major changes in portfolios in the reshuffle of theUnion Cabinet today which saw S Jaipal Reddy gettingPetroleum, Praful Patel moving to Heavy Industries, Kamal Nathto Urban Development and Murli Deora to Corporate Affairs.
The exercise, described as "minor" by Prime MinisterManmohan Singh, who promised a "more expansive exercise" afterthe budget session of Parliament starting next month, saw theelevation of three Ministers of State--Praful Patel,Shriprakash Jaiswal and Salman Khursheed-- to Cabinet rank andinduction of three new faces--Beni Prasad Verma, Ashwani Kumarand K C Venugopal--as Ministers of State. Kumar made a reentryinto the government having been a minister in UPA I.
Verma was inducted as Minister of State withindependent charge while Ministers of State Ajay Makhen and KV Thomas got promotion when they got ministries withindependent charge.
The change of portfolios adversely affected SportsMinister M S Gill who has been moved to Statistics andProgramme Implementation, Virbhadra Singh from Steel to Micro,Small and Medium Enterprises, Vilasrao Deshmukh from HeavyIndustries to Rural Development and Murli Deora from Petroleumto Corporate Affairs.
The other Cabinet Ministers whose portfolios werechanged were B K Handique from whom Mines was taken awayleaving him only with Development of Northeastern Region and CP Joshi, who was shifted from Panchayati Affairs and RuralDevelopment to Road Transport and Highways.
Kapil Sibal, who was recently given Telecom portfolioafter the exit of DMK''s A Raja, retained both Telecom and HRDministries while Science and Technology and Earth Scienceswere taken away from him.
Sharad Pawar, President of NCP, which was the onlyCongress ally to be touched in this reshuffle, lost ConsumerAffairs, Food and Public Distribution.
Changes were also affected in the ministries of theCabinet members including Selja, Subodh Kant Sahay and PawanKumar Bansal. Selja lost Tourism and got Culture in additionto Housing and Urban and POverty Alleviation, which she had,while Sahay was shifted from Food Processing Industries toTourism.
Bansal retained Parliamentary Affairs and shed WaterResources to Khursheed, who was shifted from CorporateAffairs. Bansal got new charge of Science and Technology andEarth Sciences while Khursheed retained Minority Affairs.
Civil Aviation, held by Praful Patel, has now gone toOverseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi as additionalcharge.