New Delhi, June 17 (ANI): As the Congress Party gears up for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Monday inducted eight new faces in the Council of Ministers.
Oscar Fernandes, Sis Ram Ola, Girija Vyas and K.S. Rao were given the Cabinet rank at a swearing-in-ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
Oscar Fernandes has been appointed the Minister for Road and Highways; Sis Ram Ola, a prominent Jat leader, was inducted in the Union Cabinet as Labour and Employment Minister; Girija Vyas took over as Housing, Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation Minister and K.S. Rao took over as the Textiles Minister.
The UPA Government also named four new Ministers of State.
Manikrao Gavit took over as Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Santosh Chowdhury was sworn-in as the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, J.D. Seelam took over as Minister of State for Finance and E N S Nachiappan took over as Minister of State for Commerce and Industry.
The reshuffle-cum-expansion took place to fill several vacancies in the Union Cabinet. These vacancies were created following the resignation of Ajay Maken, CP Joshi, PK Bansal, Ashwini Kumar and Ministers belonging to the DMK. Maken and Joshi quit the Union Cabinet on Saturday night to work for the Congress Party.
Joshi, who was holding dual portfolios of Surface Transport and Highways and Railways, resigned following 'directives' from the Congress High Command.
Maken, who was Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, has expressed his desire to work for the party.
Bansal quit as the Railways Minister last month in the wake of bribery scandal involving his nephew and a Railway Board member.
Ashwini Kumar resigned as the Law Minister following a controversy over vetting of a CBI probe report on coal blocks allocation scam.
The Railway portfolio was given to Joshi as an additional charge while that of Law went to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal also as an additional ministry.
The names of Ministers to take charge of Railways and Sports are yet to be announced. Monday's reshuffle of the Council of Ministers was projected as the last one in UPA-II with Lok Sabha elections less than a year away. This is the second reshuffle since October last year.
Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were among those present on the occasion.
The reshuffle in Union Cabinet comes a day after the Congress Working Committee was reconstituted.
Ajay Maken, CP Joshi, Ambika Soni and Gurudas Kamat were brought in as General Secretaries of the party yesterday. (ANI)