Swaraj remains I&B minister in cabinet reshuffle

At the end of it all, speculation of her moving out of the information and broadcasting ministry proved unfounded. A major cabinet reshuffle undertaken by Prime Minister AB Vajpayee today that witnessed the swearing in of four cabinet ministers and nine ministers of state, also saw I&B minister Sushma retaining her portfolio. 

In the lead-up to the reshuffle, speculation was rife in the capital last week that Swaraj might be relieved of her present responsibilities and entrusted with new work, one rumour being that she was in the running for presidentship of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Information technology, telecommunications and parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan, who was seen as a likely candidate to take charge of the I&B ministry as well, ultimately failed to dislodge Swaraj. Another name that was thrown up - former Hindi film star Shatrugan Sinha - was seen as not having much credibility. At the end of it all Sinha got the health and family welfare minister's post.

One immediate fallout of this is that that the introduction of conditional access systems (CAS) that Swaraj has been pushing through opposing legislators and political rivals passionately, is likely to see its passage by the end of the month.

The Bill relating to the amendments to the Cable TV (Networks) Regulation Act 1995, which will pave the way for final implementation of CAS in phases in the country, has been passed by Lok Sabha (the Lower House of Indian Parliament). But it awaits the Rajya Sabha's (Upper House) okay and this is now is expected to go through during the monsoon session of Parliament that begins 15 July.

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