With Sunday's mega cabinet rejig, the Congress has sought to bolster its position in the electorally-crucial state of Andhra Pradesh, emerge as a strong player in West Bengal and energise the government ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The major reshuffle of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA-II) government, effected after considerable deliberation among the party's top two leaders - Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh - saw the party gearing up to tackle a string of assembly elections due till 2013 end.
The much talked-about "Rahul stamp", in the form of elevation of young leaders, was visible but apparently not very pronounced.
The party also sought to send a message to the anti-corruption activists that it was unfazed by their allegations. Salman Khurshid, who was targetted by Arvind Kejriwal over alleged irregularities in a NGO run by his wife, was moved from law to the more high-profile external affairs portfolio.
Andhra Pradesh, which handsomely contributed to the Congress kitty in the past two Lok Sabha elections, saw five new inductions, taking the total number of ministers from the state to 11.
Newly-inducted ministers from the state include Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy, S. Sathyanarayana, P.B. Naik and Kruparani Killi (all ministers of state) and K. Chiranjeevi (minister of state with independent charge), while M.M. Pallam Raju was elevated as cabinet minister.
S. Jaipal Reddy and V. Kishore Chandra Deo and Jairam Ramesh are already cabinet ministers from Andhra while D. Purandeswari and Lakshmi Panabaka are ministers of state.
The Congress is facing strong competition in the state from the Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress and suffered heavy reverses in the bypolls held a few months ago. It has also been pushed to a corner over demands of its Telangana leaders for carving out a new state.
The party also inducted "detractors" of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee - Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Deepa Dasmunsi and A.H. Khan Choudhury - as ministers of state, in bid to become a strong player in West Bengal.
The reshuffle saw leaders from some of the election-bound states get an elevation in an apparent bid to woo the electorate.
Congress leader Manish Tewari, who valiantly articulated the party's viewpoint as a spokesperson following persistent attack from the opposition on charges of corruption, has been rewarded for his efforts and made a minister of state (independent charge) of information and broadcasting.
However, representation from Maharashtra, a key state for the Congress, has gone down with exit of Mukul Wasnik and no replacement for Vilasrao Deshmukh who passed away earlier this year.
The party also did not make any changes to representation from the electorally-crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, but elevated Khurshid.
Articulate MP Shashi Tharoor has made a comeback to the ministry. Kerala's representation has gone up to six in the ministry.
Congress media department chairman Janardan Dwivedi Sunday hailed the reshuffle as a meaningful change and hoped it would further improve the functioning of the government. "This is called a big change, a meaningful change," Dwivedi said.
"The reshuffle has given representation to experienced people as well as the young and new faces...Congress has always made efforts to ensure that the new generation gets maximum representation," he said.
Some of the young party leaders - expected to be key members of Rahul Gandhi's future team - have been elevated. Jyotiraditya Scindia (given the power ministry), Sachin Pilot (corporate affairs), Jitendra Singh (youth affairs and sports) have been made minister of state with independent charge and given significant portfolios.
Jitin Prasada (given defence and HRD) and R.P.N. Singh (Home) have been moved to more weighty portfolios though they continue to be ministers of state.
Maken, whose work as minister of state for youth affairs, earned praise in party circles, has been made minister of housing and urban poverty alleviation. The ministry's work is crucial to the electoral fortunes of the Congress in the wake of its "pro-poor" thrust.
The reshuffle has got the government representation from Bihar with Nationalist Congress Party leader Tariq Anwar being sworn in as a minister of state. The cabinet also has no representation from Jharkhand with Subodh Kant Sahai having resigned from his post.