Moily given politically sensitive portfolio of Petroleum and Natural Gas
As expected, the former Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson and Congress leader from Karnataka K. Rahman Khan was inducted into the Union Cabinet on Sunday. Mr. Khan has been given the Minority Affairs portfolio.
Mr. Khan, who has made a comeback into the Union Ministry, had earlier served as Minister of State.
Mr. Khan’s induction into the Cabinet is being viewed in State political circles as an effort by the Congress leadership to make up for the embarrassing episode of defeat of its minority candidate Iqbal Ahmed Saradagi in the recently held Legislative Council elections due to cross-voting. This is also being seen as an effort towards caste and community alignment ahead of the forthcoming elections to the Assembly.
The total number of Union Ministers from Karnataka has remained at four as S.M. Krishna resigned as External Affairs Minister a few days ago.
M. Veerappa Moily, who hitherto held the Corporate Affairs and Power portfolio, has been shifted to the politically sensitive portfolio of Petroleum and Natural Gas. His new assignment has become a “political hot seat” as the decisions and stance by the Ministry on various issues related to natural gas, including the price, has a direct bearing on the interests of big corporate firms.
In fact, political observers link the shifting of his predecessor S. Jaipal Reddy to his taking on Reliance Industries Ltd. on gas prices, as well as the decline in gas production from the company’s block off the Andhra Pradesh coast.
Meanwhile, K.H. Muniyappa, who was Minister of State for Railways, has been given the portfolio of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises portfolio.
M. Mallikarjun Kharge has retained the portfolio of Labour and Employment.