By the end, the Prime Minister had inducted eight new faces into his government, axed seven ministers and juggled some portfolios in a bid to improve the image of his Congress-led government, but most analysts dismissed the changes as cosmetic.
The much-expected exercise was, however, marred by the resignation of Congress veteran Gurudas Kamat, who said he wanted to leave the ministry for 'personal reasons'. Congress sources said he was asked to leave after it became known that he was unhappy to be made the minister of state for drinking water and sanitation -- a new portfolio.
'As far as I am concerned, this is the last reshuffle before we go to the polls (in 2014),' Manmohan Singh later told reporters at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. 'This exercise is as comprehensive as possible.'
The prime minister added he had repeatedly asked Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to join the government 'but he feels he has more to contribute to the organisation'.
The reshuffle, the second since January, left the 'big four' -- Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Home Minister P. Chidambaram - untouched.
The 78-member council of ministers includes 62 from the Congress and 16 from allies in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Image: A graphic on the cabinet reshuffle.