In what’s touted as the last Cabinet expansion of the UPA-II government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday achieved a record of sorts. His government will now have the all-time highest number of Cabinet Ministers. With the inclusion of four more Cabinet Ministers, the number goes up to 32 including the PM.
Mallikarjun Kharge was made Railways Minister, as eight others were inducted. Veterans Sis Ram Ola and Oscar Fernandes have made a comeback. After Sunday’s reshuffle in the party, senior woman leader from election-bound Rajasthan, Girija Vyas, and K S Rao from Andhra Pradesh were brought in as Cabinet Ministers in Monday’s exercise. Three new faces, Santosh Chowdhury, J D Seelam and E M S Natchiappan, were made Ministers of State along with veteran Maharashtra leader Manikrao Gavit. The strength of the Union Council of Ministers has now gone up to 77.
Interestingly, with only four Cabinet Ministers from the alliance partners—Farooq Abdullah (NC), Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel from NCP and Ajit Singh (RLD) —the Manmohan Singh Cabinet seems to be more of a Congress affair in the last leg of the 15th Lok Sabha.
After the November 2012 Cabinet reshuffle, the UPA-II government had a total of 30 Cabinet ministers, including the PM. In the UPA alliance, the Congress has only 203 Lok Sabha seats now, down from 206 when it started out in 2009. In fact, the UPA-II government was formed with 28 Cabinet Ministers in 2009. UPA-I however was formed with 29 Cabinet Ministers in 2004.
In comparison, the government headed by Morarji Desai had 17 Cabinet Ministers, and in July 1980, Indira Gandhi had formed the government with 13 Cabinet Ministers, and Rajiv Gandhi, who had got a massive mandate in the Lok Sabha, formed the government with 11 Cabinet Ministers including the PM. P V Narasimha Rao’s government had 13 Cabinet Ministers including himself, while A B Vajpayee formed the NDA government in 1999 with 25 Cabinet Ministers including the PM.