Indian power minister gets promoted in the midst of worst blackout ever

NEW DELHI — Instead of asking power minister Sushilkumar Shinde some tough questions on what triggered the biggest blackout in Indian history, the government on Tuesday chose to do just the opposite.

It promoted the 71-year-old politician to the coveted but challenging job of being Home Minister and look after internal security.

Click here to see more photos of India’s power outages:


View Photo Gallery: About half of the country was left in the dark as electrical grids mysteriously collapsed in 14 states in the north and east of India.

One minute, Shinde, the lackluster underachieving politician, was struggling to find reasons for the massive grid failure that affected over 600 million Indians; and another minute, his name was flashed across television screens as India’s next Home Minister.

Many analysts, old Shinde-watchers, television channels and Twitterati immediately denounced the promotion.

“What has Shinde done to deserve this promotion?” asked India’s Hindi-language ABP news television channel.

@madhukarpandey tweeted: “So now, instead of grid failure, there will be security failure. What an irony!”

@rahulkanwal tweeted: “Notification issued. Sushil Shinde is powerless India's new Home Minister. If Shinde does to Home what he's done to power, India has had it.”

What was worse, he was replaced by Veerappa Moily, someone who will only be a part-time power minister because his attention will now be divided between the power and corporate affairs ministries.

The government could not have chosen a more inappropriate day for the cabinet shuffle. Facing a crippling power blackout, sagging economic growth and rising inflation, India made another significant change of portfolio that got almost lost in the anger about power.

Palaniappan Chidambaram, a pro-investment politician cum lawyer will now be India’s new Finance Minister. Chidambaram will be leaving the home ministry to assume the reigns of the economy at a very difficult time.

On any other day, this might have been just the announcement that would have sparked optimism in the share market and among economic analysts. But Tuesday’s long-awaited cabinet reshuffle left many Indians with the feeling that the problem of kickstarting the economy may just be too enormous to be fixed by a mere change of name.

More world news coverage:

- Notable power outages around the world

- India blackout leaves 600 million without power

- Japan concerned by Chinese naval activity

- Read more headlines from around the world

Rama Lakshmi has been with The Post's India bureau since 1990. She is a staff writer and India social media editor for Post World.

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