THE TESTED AND TIRED
The elevation of P. Chidambaram and Sushilkumar Shinde shows the limits of UPA’S resources
On July 31, Manmohan Singh rearranged a few chairs in his Cabinet. There was no sign of the much- hyped reshuffle. Nor did Rahul Gandhi make his ministerial debut, despite a recent statement that he wanted to play a larger role in the party and government.
With India under the grip of its biggest power breakdown, Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was further empowered with the plum home portfolio, and P. Chidambaram went back to finance. When Manmohan had taken over finance from Pranab Mukherjee, there was a media blitzkrieg from the PMO claiming the Prime Minister was taking an active interest in the ministry, and had told officials to find ways to restore investor faith by reviving mutual funds, taking a relook at GAAR and retrospective tax. But the enthusiasm soon fizzled out as the Prime Minister realised there was little he could do. Chidambaram is yet to reveal his magic formula.
Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily is saddled with additional charge of power. In the last reshuffle in July 2011, Moily had been shunted out of the law ministry because of his lacklustre performance. Moily had said he “should not be hanged for mistakes of the administrative machinery”. Two Cabinet ministers shrugged when asked why the Prime Minister had handed the crucial power portfolio to Moily, and that too as merely an additional charge.
The buzz in the Congress is that Rahul will not be joining the Government. Digvijaya Singh, his official mind- reader, told the media recently, “I want Rahul to take a larger role and prepare the party for the 2014 elections; I don’t want him to join the Government.” Rahul has, in the recent past, accompanied his mother Sonia Gandhi to congratulate Mukherjee on his presidential poll victory, and met Congress Chief Ministers Prithviraj Chavan and Ashok Gehlot. He also found time to watch a late night show of the movie Cocktail, in one of Delhi’s upmarket theatres. The Congress is hoping he’ll soon get on with his own show.
SUSHILKUMAR SHINDE AND P. CHIDAMBARAM ( RIGHT)