New Delhi: There are ample indications of a Cabinet reshuffle happening as early as Monday. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a closed-door meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday, with sources saying the aim was to give a final shape to the Cabinet rejig.
Prior to meeting Sonia Gandhi, the PM also met Union minister Kapil Sibal.
Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had met DMK chief M Karunanidhi in Chennai. Sources said the main purpose of that meeting too was to discuss the impending reshuffle of the Union Cabinet.
Reports have said PM Singh would most likely rejig his Council of Ministers on Monday, but the reshuffle would not be as “expansive” as promised in January.
The ‘Big Four’ – Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister AK Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna – are expected to retain their ministries.
With Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee pronouncing the party`s desire to retain the Railways Ministry, either Mukul Roy or Dinesh Trivedi - both Ministers of State - may make it to the Rail Bhavan.
There is also speculation of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav making it to the Union Cabinet this time. He is reported to have held talks with senior Congress leaders already on the issue.
Corporate Affairs Minister Murli Deora has also offered to quit and may be replaced by his son, Milind Deora.
Also, some ministers like Kapil Sibal (Telecom and HRD) hold dual charge and may be relieved of some responsibility in the reshuffle.
While the talk of an impending Cabinet reshuffle has been going on for quite some time, the exit of Dayanidhi Maran as Union Textiles Minister has fuelled speculation of the same happening as early as Monday.
And today’s meeting between Karunanidhi and Pranab Mukherjee shows the urgency of the matter.
Following the exit of Maran and A Raja as telecom minister, DMK have two positions to claim in the Cabinet. However, DMK sources had yesterday indicated that Karunanidhi was not keen on sending a replacement. But a final decision is expected to have been taken at the meeting between Karunanidhi and Mukherjee.