Oil minister Gangwar wants to leave the oil ministry

Vol 4, PW 25 (31 Jan 01) People & Policy

One of India's two junior oil ministers, Santosh Kumar Gangwar, wants to leave the Indian oil ministry for a cabinet post and a ministry of his own.

It is understood that Gangwar has begun lobbying the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) office to be allotted a ministerial post with cabinet rank in any forthcoming reshuffle. Gangwar's argument for his own ministry is the lack of cabinet ministers from Uttar Pradesh - his home state.

He has reportedly told the Prime Minister that Uttar Pradesh sends the largest number of MPs to Parliament but has only five representatives holding ministerial posts, most of them "insignificant." Officials close to Gangwar tell this report he has even instructed his aides NOT to press for a permanent office in the oil ministry, should his transfer happen earlier than expected. At present, Gangwar works from a temporary make-shift office and - until news emerged of a possible cabinet reshuffle - had been pressing for a bigger office, "which befits his status".

Rumours of an impending reshuffle of the 73-strong BJP-led administration in Delhi have intensified following the conclusion of regional elections in Bihar, Haryana, Orissa and Manipur on (Tuesday) 22nd February. It is reported that Prime Minister Vajpayee intends to transfer a handful of cabinet ministers to take up the position of Chief Minister in any state where the BJP-led alliance emerges victor.

Nitish Kumar, surface transport minister, has been named as a possible for Bihar, and Naveen Patnaik, mines and minerals minister, for Orissa. Another empty cabinet seat is that of tourism minister.

It is far from certain if Gangwar will get any of the posts. Other heavyweight candidates are also in the race.