Upon his elevation to the Cabinet rank, Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday assumed charge as the Union Minister of Rural Development.

He succeeds Vilasrao Deshmukh, who has been shifted to the Science and Technology Ministry. Mr. Ramesh is the third Cabinet Minister to assume charge of the Rural Development Ministry in UPA II; the first person being C.P. Joshi, who is currently the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways.

Mr. Ramesh said he was very happy on his elevation as Cabinet Minister. Earlier, he held the Environment Ministry as Minister of State with independent charge.

Replying to a question, Mr. Ramesh denied that his wings had been clipped with the Prime Minister not allocating to him the additional charge of Panchayati Raj Ministry as had been the case with his two predecessors.

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been given to V. Kishore Chandra Deo.

And, the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation has, for the first time, been separated from the Rural Development Ministry and placed under a separate Minister, but that, of course, has led to some kind of embarrassment for the Congress leadership. Gurudas Kamat has refused to take over as Minister of State with independent charge of the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation saying that it was insignificant.

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