Reshuffle with polls in UP, Kerala in mind

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New Delhi, Jan 19 (PTI) The reshuffle in the UnionCabinet, carried out today, appears to have some focus onassembly election-going states like Kerala and Uttar Pradesh,where Congress has a lot of stakes.

Uttar Pradesh, which goes to elections in 2012, nowhas two cabinet rank Ministers Salman Khurshid andShriprakash Jaiswal, one MoS Independent for Steel in BeniPrasad Verma and three junior ministers Jitin Prasad, PradipJain Aditya and RPN Singh.

Besides, Congress MP P L Punia is already holding acabinet rank as the Chairman of the National Commission forScheduled Castes.

The number of reprentatives from Uttar Pradesh in thecabinet has increased from five to six after today''s reshufflein UPA II while there were only three ministers two cabinetand one MoS from the state in UPA 1.

Khurshid''s elevation is crucial keeping in mind that heis the best-known known Muslim face of the party in the state,where Congress was back with a bang in last Lok Sabhaelections with minority support and winning 22 seats. Khurshidhad also served as PCC chief in the state in the past.

Jaiswal, who too has been elevated to cabinet rank,belongs to Vaishya community, which has a sizeable populationin UP, where BJP is on the wane.

Beni Prasad Verma, who was once in Samajwadi Party,belongs to powerful Kurmi community from the OBC which hassignificant presence in quite a number of constituencies inUP.

Care has been taken to represent the significantcommunities of Kerala as well, from where a new face K CVenugopal has been inducted in the union council of ministers.

The leader belongs to the powerful Nair community.

Venugopal, who has been made a junior minister, isconsidered to be a replacement for Shashi Tharoor, the ex-minister of state for External Affairs, who had to gofollowing Kochi IPL ownership controversy last year. Tharooralso hailed from the same community.

Overseas Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, also hailingfrom Kerala, has got additional charge of the key CivilAviation portfolio earlier held by NCP''s Praful Patel as MoS(Independent charge).

K V Thomas, also from Kerala, has been elevated to MoS(Independent charge)and given the key ministry of ConsumerAffairs, Food and Public Distribution, at a time when thegovernment as well Congress appear keen to rein in foodgrainprices as spiralling prices could hit the party inelection-bound states.

Thomas belongs to the Catholic fishermen communitywhich has sizeable population in coastal Kerala.

E Ahamed, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML)leader,who was earlier Minister of State (Railways) has been shiftedto the Ministry of External Affairs in the same capacity. PTIAMR

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