Ajit Singh likely to be the new Aviation Minister

RLD, with five members in the Lok Sabha, on Monday formally joined the UPA.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh polls, RLD chief Ajit Singh is likely to be appointed the new Civil Aviation Minister, according to reports.

Sources said on Monday night that the swearing-in of the 72-year-old Jat leader from western Uttar Pradesh could take place as early as December 15 morning before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh embarks on an official visit to Russia. Another date being mentioned is December 18 after the Prime Minister returns from Moscow.

Rashtriya Lok Dal, with five members in the Lok Sabha, on Monday formally joined the UPA.

With RLD joining the ruling coalition, its strength has
gone up from 272 to 277 MPs.

"Ajit Singh gave a letter to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi
stating that RLD would like to join the alliance and the
latter has agreed to this," Congress General Secretary
Digvijay Singh told reporters here earlier in the day.

RLD is the first party to join UPA after the 2009
general election. Ajit Singh has joined the coalition at a
time when some of the Congress` allies have become more

Before this alliance was given a final shape, Congress
general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Ajit Singh had held several
meetings to discuss seat-sharing.

The talks between the two parties had run into rough
weather some time back reportedly due to Ajit Singh`s demand
for a berth in the Union Cabinet.

Congress had come fourth with 21 seats in the last
assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2007.

Some recent poll surveys have put Samajwadi Party and
BSP among the front-runners, while BJP stands at the third
place way behind these two parties.

Congress has already declared that its alliance with
RLD will be a "gamechanger" in the UP polls.

With UP polls being seen as a make or break elections for the scion of the Congress party Rahul Gandhi, any support from other political parties will surely come as a great boost.

Meanwhile, the BSP dismissed the new found friendship saying that both the Congress and the RLD have no vote bank in UP.

Ajit Singh has been a member of the Congress government in the past when Narasimha Rao was the PM. He held the food portfolio then.

He was industry minister in the VP Singh government (1989-90) and agriculture minister in the BJP-led NDA regime from 2001-03.

RLD will be the 15th constituent of the UPA, the others being TMC, DMK, NCP, NC, Muslim League, MIM, Kerala Congress (M), VCK, Bodoland Peoples` Front, Nagaland Peoples` Front, SDF, and AIUDF.

With PTI inputs

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