Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh introduced a new-look cabinet Sunday in the biggest ministerial reshuffle since his 2009 re-election and ahead of state and national elections over the next 18 months.
The Associated Press said the reshuffle, adding 15 new junior ministers, was a bid to overhaul the image of a government hit by charges of corruption and lethargy.
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However, notably absent in the lineup of fresh faces was Rahul Gandhi, son and grandson of two prime ministers from India's feted Nehru-Gandhi family and a star campaigner for the ruling Congress party.
The AP cited Singh as saying of Gandhi, often portrayed as a prime minister-in-waiting:
"I would have been happy to include Rahul in the Cabinet, but he has other preoccupations in the party."
NDTV cited speculation now that Gandhi could be appointed the Congress party's "working president," effectively a second-in-charge to his mother, party president Sonia Gandhi.
Gandhi, who has not yet held a government position, was said to have been involved in discussions over the new-look cabinet.
Among the prominent appointees, former law minister Salman Khursheed was appointed foreign minister, while Ashwini Kumar was elevated to the law and justice portfolio.
Seven ministers — including veteran Congress leaders — resigned to make room for the new ministers, and said they would work for the party in the elections lead-up, the Australian Associated Press reported.