The timidity of the Ultimate Playsafe Alliance

In November 2007, the US embassy in Delhi sent a cable to Washington, which was revealed later by Wikileaks. It said, among other things, “Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Proof in the new year comes in the form of the reshuffle of the Manmohan Singh team.

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# Manini Chatterjee in The Telegraph:  “The much-awaited cabinet shuffle turned out to be an uninspired and uninspiring exercise that has only served to reinforce — rather than end — the sense of confusion and drift gripping the Manmohan Singh-Sonia Gandhi-led UPA in their second term in power.”

# Editorial in The Indian Express: “Reshuffling a pack fools nobody…. The UPA might think that good optics are enough. They are not. And the truth is that a mere reshuft fle is not even good enough optics. The crisis the UPA faces requires not just reshuffling, but discards.”

# Editorial in The Times of India:  “UPA-II has been buffeted by corruption scandals and spiralling food inflation. And it’s been under sustained attack from an opposition that’s smelt blood. A cabinet rejig was just what it needed to signal changed course and renewed combativeness. Manmohan Singh required it especially, not just as a reminder of his authority as prime minister but because the buck for governance shortfall stops at his door. As things turned out, the reshuffle was a damp squib, signifying no real change to the status quo. Barring some exceptions, it focussed neither on projecting result-oriented ministers nor the youth factor.”

# Editorial in The Economic Times: “The lack of ambition in the reshuffle is borne out by the failure to drop anyone from the Council of ministers. All that we see is some wagging of the prime ministerial finger here, a mild rap on the knuckle there and a more liberal use of that mortification called making someone stand in a corner.”

# Editorial in DNA: “It can be argued that cabinet reshuffle is not meant to send out political signals about which way the ideological wind is blowing and that it is just a reassigning of work. That is not convincing enough.”

# Vinod Sharma in the Hindustan Times: “One had expected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to renovate his ministerial council with fresh talent and out-of-the-box thinking. To that extent, he comes across as having rearranged furniture without completely discarding rickety chairs and faded upholstery. The makeover is partial, even half-hearted with ministers shifted from one portfolio to another.”

Cartoons: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today; E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express