It seems that the Congress party is making a last ditch attempt at rescuing its sullied image by making major changes to the UPA cabinet.

While the former Minister for Power Sushilkumar Shinde was told to shift to Ministry of Home Affairs, his department was transferred to Virappa Moily. P Chidambaram has once again assumed charge of the Finance Ministry.

The reaction from the Opposition to Shinde’s appointment was predictable — they said that the former CM of Maharashtra was rewarded for his unbending loyalty towards the Gandhi family.

Now provocative as these claims are, they cannot be rubbished. The Congress in general and the Gandhi family in particular have always favoured loyalty over performance.

Despite his involvement in the Adarsh housing scam and his lacklustre performance as Power Minister, Shinde’s sudden windfall is definitely a reward for his unquestionable loyalty to the nation’s first political family.

It’s the same case with Chidambaram. When he was Home Minister in the wake of the 26/11 blasts, he was projected as someone who could deal with the existing ills with the unbending firmness he was known for. But Chidambaram’s clean image was also sullied soon after the expose of Finance Ministry’s involvement in the 2G spectrum conundrum. Chidambaram managed to survive the debacle with his offices intact, thanks to a weak and unenthused Opposition.

The nation is mired deep in misery — with the disturbances in the north-east, the recurring Maoist threat in Central India, inflation and frustration among the middle class, and the bleak future of the power sector. Shinde, Chidambaram and Moily have a tough task ahead of them, if they wish to prove the naysayers wrong.