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Petroleum portfolio jinx fells Ram Naik

By Pradeep Puri in New Delhi
May 17, 2004 10:00 IST
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One can safely advise all the aspirants for ministerial berths to avoid hankering for the petroleum portfolio.

For, most of the Cabinet ministers for petroleum and natural gas after the formation of the ministry in 1963 have lost the following election and sent to political wilderness.

Among the notable exceptions is P C Sethi, who was made petroleum minister thrice - 1971-72, 1980, and 1980-82.

Humayun Kabir was the first petroleum minister from November 21, 1963, to January 24, 1966. The last so far has been Ram Naik who lost from the Mumbai North constituency to film star Govinda.

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Naik assumed the office on the 'unlucky' day of 13 (October, 1999) and had to relinquish on the same day 13 (May, 2004). Interestingly, all the prime ministers after 1963, barring Rajiv Gandhi, held this portfolio, even if for a few days.

Indira Gandhi held the portfolio for the least number of days - two. Ram Naik held the portfolio for the maximum period - four years and six months. Satish Sharma, who was minister of state, held the charge for three years, three months and 28 days.

In all, 38 people have headed the ministry till date. Eight of these were prime ministers, 23 Cabinet ministers and seven ministers of state (independent charge).

Among the prominent people who have held the portfolio are Asoka Mehta, D K Barooah, H N Bahuguna, T A Pai, Virendra Patil, P Shiv Shankar, S P Malaviya and B Shankaranand.

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Pradeep Puri in New Delhi