NEW DELHI, Oct 28 – In what could be described as the last major exercise of its kind before the next Parliamentary polls, 22 ministers were inducted into the Union Council of Ministers. Ranee Narah and Ninong Ering were sworn in as Ministers of State.
Ranee Narah has been allocated the portfolio of Minister of State for Tribal Affairs and Ninong Ering has been made Minister of State for Minority Affairs, the post earlier held by Vincent H Pala, Lok Sabha MP Shillong.
The new ministers sworn in on Sunday morning by President, Pranab Mukherjee at a well-attended function in the Ashoka Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan included seven Cabinet Ministers, two Ministers of State with independent charge and 13 Ministers of State. Of the total, 16 are new faces.
Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari, UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, several Cabinet Ministers, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj were among several dignitaries present in the swearing-in ceremony.
The Cabinet rank ministers included K Rehman Khan, who was the former deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Dinsha Patel, Ajay Maken, M M Pallam Raju, Ashwani Kumar, Harish Rawat, and Chandresh Kumari Katoch. Rehman Khan and Chandresh Kumari Katoch are the new faces while others were upgraded.
AICC spokesman Manish Tewari and K.Chiranjeevi have been inducted as Ministers of State with independence charge. Sashi Tharoor, Kodikunnil Suresh, Tariq Anwar of NCP, K Jayasurya Prakash Reddy, Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, A H Khan Choudhary, S. Satyanarayana, Deepa Das Munshi, Porika Balaram Naik, Krupa Rani Killi and Lalchand Kataria, have taken oath as Ministers of State.
Meanwhile, talking to newsmen, both Ranee Narah and Ninong Ering profusely thanked the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, Congress president, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
Expressing her gratitude to the electorate of Lakhimpur, Narah said that if the Congress leadership has appointed her as minister it is because they trust that she can do something.
The North Eastern Region suffers from several problems including floods and erosion, border issues, Bangladeshi issue besides insurgency. Of these the floods and erosion and border problems are the most grave, she added.
The Lakhimpur MP said she would accord top priority to resolution of these problems. The Centre and the State would have to work together to resolve the problems jointly and that she would do her bid.
Narah who was first elected to the 12th Lok Sabha in 1998, is a three-time Lok Sabha MP, was also president of the State Youth Congress, vice president and general secretary of the State Congress.
Meanwhile, Ninong Ering underlined the need for all MPs and Central Ministers to work together for the Region. “If all of us work together and build pressure then the government is bound to lay importance in solution of the problems,” he said.
He further added that all the three Ministers hailing from the region would work together for development of the North-east.
Ering was first elected to Arunachal Pradesh Assembly in 1989 and was appointed as Minister of State in 2009. He was made the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in 2002, the post he served for two years till 2004. In 2009, he was elected to the Lok Sabha.
Interestingly, Meghalaya which once boasted of two Ministers in the Central Government, is now without any representations after Vincent H Pala quit. Pala has been asked to work for the party in the State, while Agatha Sangma was asked to put in her papers after P.A.Sangma defied NCP leadership and contested the Presidential poll.
Another significant development is appointment of Rehman Khan as the Union Minister for Minority Affairs, which could be bad news for Tarun Gogoi Government. During the violence in BTAD areas, Khan had led a delegation of minority leaders to Union Home Minister to convey their displeasure over the handling of the situation.