The buzz of excitement and anticipation was more than palpable in the chandeliered Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan as ministers, officials and special invitees started pouring in around 11 am. Since most of them were not in the know of things, the guessing game went on as to who was in and who was out, with the insatiably curious media collaring every politician who could give the slightest clue.
The faces and the eyes, the mirror of the soul’s secrets, however, told their own story. Anand Sharma, who was widely touted as the next external affairs minister, looked unusually subdued and downcast. Salman Khurshid looked confident and casual.
The youth brigade was more than animated. Sachin Pilot, one of the youngest ministers, blithely said, “Mangal hai (all is well)”, indicating that he was up for an upgrade. In the end, he got independent charge as minister of state for corporate affairs.
In the sea of faces, Shashi Tharoor, MP from Thiruvananthapuram who had to resign two years ago due to a controversy involving the IPL cricket, stood out with his calibrated exuberance and energy. His wife Sunanda beamed, leaving not much to imagination.
Manish Tewari, the suave spokesperson of the Congress party, sported a confident smile and walked in with his wife. When Congress chief Sonia Gandhi entered the hall with her son and party general secretary Rahul, the speculated prime minister-in-waiting, the assembled ministers stood at attention, making it clear who was in charge.
In the end, the ceremonies played out by the clock, with the bugle announcing the arrival of President Pranab Mukherjee, followed by a rendition of the national anthem.
For “Pranab babu”, as the president is fondly called, it was a special moment. He has taken oath as minister in the same hall many a time, and now it was his turn to swear-in the new members of the council of ministers. Recharged after the Durga Puja, the president was a picture of poise and grace as 22 ministers took oath in different languages.
Manmohan Singh, who was till recently excoriated as a failure and a tragic figure, exuded the energy of the second generation of economic reforms he launched recently. He smiled and looked relaxed. “It’s a blend of youth and experience,” he said later. The winners had a lot to celebrate, and the losers will now have to bet on the the 2014 poll roulette.
>> Salman Khurshid: External affairs
>> Jairam Ramesh: Rural development
>> Ajay Maken: Housing and urban poverty alleviation
>> Veerappa Moily: Petroleum and natural gas
>> Jaipal Reddy: Science and technology and earth sciences
>> Kamal Nath: Urban development and parliamentary affairs
>> Vayalar Ravi: Overseas Indian affairs
>> Kapil Sibal: IT and communications
>> CP Joshi: Road transport and highways
>> Kumari Selja: Social justice and empowerment
>> Ashwani Kumar: Law and justice
>> Harish Rawat: Water resources
>> Chandresh Kumari Katoch: Culture
>> Pawan Kumar Bansal: Railways
>> K Rahman Khan: Minority affairs
>> Dinsha Patel: Mines
>> MM Pallam Raju: Human resource development
Ministers of state
>> Jitin Prasada: Defence and HRD
>> Manish Tewari: I&B (independent charge)
>> Sachin Pilot: Corporate affairs (ind charge)
>> Jitendra Singh: Youth affairs and sports (ind charge)
>> Shashi Tharoor: HRD
>> Chiranjeevi: Tourism (ind charge)
>> Jyotiraditya Scindia: Power (ind charge)
>> Tariq Anwar: Agriculture and food processing industries
>> Surya Prakash Reddy: Railways
>> Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury: Railways
>> RPN Singh: Home
>> KC Venugopal: Civil aviation
>> Rajeev Shukla: Parliamentary affairs and planning
>> KH Muniappa: Micro, small and medium enterprises (ind charge)
>> Ranee Narah: Tribal affairs
>> Bharatsinh Solanki: Drinking water and sanitation (ind charge)
>> Kodikunnil Suresh: Labour and employment
>> AH Khan Choudhury: Health and family welfare
>> Sarve Satyanarayana: Road transport and highways
>> Ninong Ering: Minority affairs
>> Deepa Dasmunsi: Urban development
>> Porika Balram Naik: Social justice and empowerment
>> Killi Kruparani: IT and communications w Lalchand Kataria: Defence
>> E Ahamed: External affairs
>> D Purandeswari: Commerce and industry
>> S Jagathrakshakan: New and renewable energy