Water Resources Ministry key test for Khurshid

New Delhi, Jan 19 (PTI) Union Minority Affairs MinisterSalman Khurshid, who has been elevated to Cabinet rank intoday''s reshuffle, had worked on many a party and governmentalposition in the past.

Khurshid, who is an MP from Farrukhabad parliamentaryconstituency, had in the past served as junior minister ofCommerce and Minister of State for External Affairs during the10th Lok Sabha (1991-96).

Between 1996 and 2009, he served on many party posts,including that of the PCC chief of Uttar Pradesh before comingback in government in 2009 as Minister of State (IndependentCharge), Corporate Affairs and Minority Affairs.

Khurshid, who has now been made a Cabinet Minister, hasbeen given additional charge of Minority Affairs other thanWater Resources and will be expected do well particularly inthe new ministry in which many a decision has politicalundertones.

The Water Resources Ministry was earlier held by PawanKumar Bansal. The ministry has suddenly got into limelightwith India and Pakistan locking horns over Kishenganga projectin Jammu and Kashmir. Work is also on regarding ambitiousprojects for interlinking of rivers in the peninsular India.

Khurshid''s home state Uttar Pradesh is going to pollsnext year where he is the party''s most known Muslim face.

Congress is hopeful of a revival of its fortune in thestate particularly after it registered good results there inthe last Lok Sabha elections in which it bagged 22 seats withminorities backing the party in substantial numbers.

Khurshid''s stint in the Minority Affairs Ministry has notbeen free from controversies with a number of measuresinitiated by him failing to see the light of the day owing tostiff opposition by sections of the community.

His initiative to make registration of Wakf propertiesmandatory was strongly opposed by All India Muslim PersonalLaw Board and the issue now stands referred to a SelectCommittee of Rajya Sabha for further consultations.

Similarly, the mandate of the much highlighted EqualOpportunity Commission, which was earlier supposed to lookafter all disadvantaged sections, was kept also limited onlyto minorities as a number of ministries objected to itsexpanded ambit.

This year, the Planning Commission also rejected four newschemes of the ministry which were to be taken up thisfinancial year.

Moreover, some Muslim MPs had also met the Prime Ministerlast year seeking change of head in the Minority AffairsMinistry.

In the party, Khurshid had served as Chairman, Departmentof Foreign Affairs (1996-97), President, Uttar PradeshCongress Committee (1999-2000 and 2005-08), Chairman,Department of Policy Planning and Coordination (DEPCO), AllIndia Congress Committee (2000-03), Special Invitee, CongressWorking Committee (2003-04) and General Secretary, All IndiaCongress Committee (2004-05).

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