Jayanti Natarajan, the new environment minister, glowed in a brocaded sari, making eco-friendly noises.
The young ministers exuded the confidence and optimism of those who have finally made it. Jitendra Singh sported a yellow-and-red Rajashthani turban and chose to take oath in Hindi despite his unease with the language. Milind Deora, the jazz-loving two-time MP from south Mumbai, glowed in spotless white kurta pyjama. His father Murli Deora watched proudly as the son took the oath and looked satisified at deftly managing his exit from the ministry with grace.
There were smiles as well as sulks. And some looked distinctly crestfallen as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dashed their hopes by declaring after the reshuffle that this would be the final rejig before the polls. M. Veerappa Moily looked profoundly unhappy as he was ducked questions about whether he saw his shifting from the law ministry to corporate affairs as a promotion. Gurdesh Kamat declined to attend the swearing-in, making public his unhappiness over his assigned portfolio of drinking water and sanitation. He later sent in his resignation letter.
Some looked distinctly relieved at being spared the axe. V. Narayansamy, the minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office, amused many by good-naturedly chanting: 'Mein Bach Gaya. (I have been saved).'
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar, and other leaders fold hands during a swearing-in ceremony for the new ministers of the Union Council at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday.