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Cabinet Expansion: Highlights

Last updated on: May 29, 2009 01:11 IST

New Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh has proved his mettle as Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh for five times but his impeccable administrative skills will be tested again with his stint this time at the Centre.

75-year-old Virbhadra, a former Stephanian, was the only Congress leader to win from Himachal Pradesh in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls. He defeated BJP's Maheshwar Singh by nearly 14,000 votes in the Mandi constituency. Virbhadra's wife had contested and won the seat in 2004.

A Rajput leader from the Bushehr royal family, Vibhadra was elected to the Lower House of Parliament for the fifth time. He has represented his constituency in 1962, 1967, 1972 and 1980.

SACHIN PILOT

It was an emotional moment for Sachin Pilot, who made his debut into Union Council of ministers, when the portfolios were announced.

Pilot was made a Minister of State in the Ministry of Communications and Technology, a portfolio once held by his late father Rajesh pilot when he held the same post as an independent charge in the early nineties in the Narasimha Rao government.

"I am happy to be in the same department which was once held by my father," said Sachin, who was inducted into the Congress on the birthday of his father two years after he died in a car accident near Jaipur on June 11, 2000.
Rajesh Pilot was widely credited in working to reach the "communication revolution" to the rural masses and he had made sure that every village had a STD/ISD facility.

G K VASAN 

G K Vasan, son of Tamil Maanila Congress founder late G K Moopanar, has been elevated to Cabinet rank in the new UPA government. A member in the Rajya Sabha elected from Tamil Nadu for the second time in 2008, the 45-year-old Congress MP will now have the task of handling the Ministry for Shipping in the new government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He was the Minister of State (Independent charge) of the Ministry of Statistics in the previous government. In his new portfolio, Vasan will have to handle tasks like raising capacity of the existing ports. KANTILAL BHURIA

KANTILAL BHURIA

Four-time MP Kantilal Bhuria, who was a Minister of State earlier, was awarded for his loyalty to the Gandhi family again when he was elevated to a cabinet post as Minister of Tribal Affairs. Bhuria, 58, who touched the feet of Congress president Sonia Gandhi before taking the oath, was Minister of State for Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in the previous UPA government.

Bhuria made a humble beginning in politics when he became the district president of Congress' Sewa Dal in 1976. He became an MLA in the Madhya Pradesh assembly in 1980. He was also a minister in the Madhya Pradesh government.

MK AZHAGIRI                                                    

After being credited with DMK's impressive performance in the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu, M K Azhagiri has today been appointed as the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers with the daunting task of making essential drugs affordable to common people.

Azhagiri, elder son of M Karunanidhi, made his maiden foray into the UPA government as a Cabinet minister.The DMK leader's prime task will be to make essential drugs affordable to masses after his predecessor Ram Vilas Paswan failed to bring in a New Pharmaceutical Policy, which aimed at bringing 354 drugs under National List of Essential Medicines and bring them under price control, in the previous UPA government due to lack of consensus.

Azhagiri will have to manage a tight rope walk in the endeavour as he will also have to keep the interest of the Indian pharmaceutical industry in mind, which has been facing the heat of the global slowdown. Azhagiri, 59, who was sent by his father to take care of party organ Murasoli's Madurai edition in 1980, took on senior leaders in the southern districts to become the party's only face in the politically-crucial region. SALMAN KHURSHEED

SALMAN KHURSHEED

Grandson of the late Zakir Hussain, Salman Khursheed is the new man in charge of the Corporate Affairs Ministry which has been in news in the wake of Satyam fraud case.

Khursheed will step into the shoes of RJD's P C Gupta when he tomorrow takes over as the Minister of State (independent
charge) for Corporate Affairs, making a come back to the council of ministers after a gap of 13 years.

 The 52-year-old Congress' Muslim face from UP, was previously Minister of State for External Affairs from 1991 to
1996 in the P V Narsimha Rao government.

The Corporate Affairs ministry remained in news after the Satyam scam and will be one of the high-profile economic
ministry of this government, owing to its enlarged ambit of looking into the various aspects of corporate functioning.

The lawyer-turned-politician from Farukkabad was the officer on special duty in the Prime Minister's Office during
the tenure of Indira Gandhi.

Khursheed is now tasked with steering the corporate sector through choppy waters in form of drop in investor confidence
due to financial meltdown and Satyam debacle, massive paperwork, lengthy procedures and cumbersome compliances.

MEIRA KUMAR                                   

Meira Kumar, who was today appointed as Union Minister of Water Resources, is the lone face from Bihar in the new cabinet. Daughter of late Dalit leader Babu Jagjivan Ram, Kumar, 64, joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973 and served at embassies in Spain, United Kingdom and Mauritius.

She entered electoral politics in 1985 and was elected from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. She was a member of the 11th
and 12th Lok Sabha from Karol Bagh in Delhi. She lost her seat in the BJP wave of 1999 but was reelected
with a record majority from her father's former constituency of Sasaram in Bihar.
                       

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