Pala, Agatha stay afloat

Our Spl Correspondent,

 NEW DELHI: If democracy is the game of numbers, the north-eastern states as a whole were sole losers in Tuesday’s expansion and reshuffle of the three-year-old Congress-led UPA Government.

Though both the ministers of state – Vincent H Pala and Agatha Sangma – were left untouched, veteran leader and Cabinet Minister BK Handique was replaced with Paban Singh Ghatowar. But the chief whip of Congress party in Parliament who was already an MoS way back in Narasimha Rao Cabinet was given only Independent charge of DoNER.

The portfolios of both the ministers from Meghalaya – Rural Development for Agatha and Water Resources/Minority Affairs for Pala – also remained unchanged. But the portfolios of their Cabinet ministers were altered.

Maverick former Environment and Forest Minister, Jairam Ramesh was promoted to Cabinet and given the charge of Rural Development. The other Cabinet Minister Shalman Khurshid continued to remain in charge of Minority Affairs but gave up Water Resources which went back to Pawan Kumar Bansal as additional charge.

Barring the three there were none from any of the remaining three Congress-ruled states- Manipur, Mizoram, Aruanchal Pradesh and Sikkim ruled by alliance partner Sikkim Democratic Front.

There was no scope for Nagaland and Tripura since both are ruled by opposition NDA and Left Front respectively for a long time where the Congress has no MP either in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha.

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