This is last cabinet reshuffle before 2014 polls: PM

In a surprise statement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today’s reshuffle of his Council of Ministers is the last before the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 but two slots have been kept vacant for DMK as part of “coalition dharma”.

Talking to reporters after the swearing-in of the 11 ministers at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Singh said the resuffle reflects a “balance necessary between various states, consideration of efficiency, consideration of continuity” in the government. “As far as I am concerned this is the last reshuffle before we go to polls (in 2014),” he said, adding “This exercise is as comprehensive as possible.”

Asked whether he anticipated problems after the resuffle because of some ministers being unhappy, Singh said, “there are bound to be problems when there is some redistribution of portfolios. We have taken into account the best interests of the country.” At the same time, he said two ministerial slots have been kept vacant for DMK.

“It is part of our coalition dharma…I hope their decision will be coming soon,” the Prime Minister said. DMK, which lost two ministerial berths due to resignation of A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran in the wake of allegations against them in the 2G scam, is expected to decide on filling those slots during its General Council meeting on July 23. When pointed out that the government was facing problems and whether he was hopeful of overcoming these, Singh said, “definitely, there is no doubt.”