IT minister Mahajan gets additional charge of telecoms; Paswan gets coal and mines

Telecoms minister Ram Vilas Paswan apparently got his just reward for increasing teledensity in India during his two year tenure and piloting the Communication Convergence Bill 2001 into Parliament in a almost sneaky maneuver on the last day of the monsoon session. Paswan was shorn of his telecoms ministry charge on Saturday by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee - as part of a cabinet reshuffle over the weekend - and given the coal and mines ministry reponsibility.

Information technology minister Pramod Mahajan was given additional charge of the telecoms ministry in a move which is seen as the first steps towards the creation of a giant ministry of convergence. Observers expect the information and broadcasting ministry to go next under the convergence ministry umbrella.

Mahajan - who is a fund raiser for the Bharatiya Janata Party - is familiar with broadcasting as he headed the ministry three years ago, but was later replaced by current minister Sushma Swaraj. He told a press conference that "broadcasting does not really come under convergence as it deals with entertainment whereas communications and information technology have closer links."

Mahajan says he would like to see the Communication Convergence Bill 2001 enacted by August 2002. 

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