New Delhi: The much-talked about reshuffle
of the Union Council of Ministers appears highly on the cards
in a day or two involving about 10 to 12 ministers including
new entrants from Trinamool Congress and Congress.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh have held three meetings so far on the
reshuffle but no official word is out on the issue.
Speculation was rife that it could be on Monday but chances
appear to be brighter on Tuesday.
However, sources said Trinamool Congress Chief Whip in
the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandhyopadhyay may finally get a break and
could be inducted as Minister of State, possibly in the
Finance Ministry in charge of Revenue.
There is also speculation that incumbent Minister of
State Finance in charge of Revenue SS Palanimanickam may be
upgraded to Cabinet rank in the wake of resignations by his
DMK colleagues A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran from the Cabinet.
The talk in Trinamool Congress is that Mamata Banerjee
could entrust senior leader Dinesh Trivedi with the Railways
portfolio she vacated after becoming the West Bengal Chief
DMK may opt for the upgrade in view of the fact that
it is said to be not in a mood to name new entrants into the
government at this juncture when two of its ministers had to
resign under a cloud and party chief Karunanidhi`s daughter
Kanimozhi is in jail.
Karunanidhi, who met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee
in Chennai yesterday, is understood to have told him that the
party will decide on the issue of replacements for Maran and
Raja only after its General Council meeting in Coimbatore on
July 23 and 24.
Reshuffle plans acquired an urgency in the wake of
resignation by Maran and Corporate Affairs Minister Murli
Deora`s offer to quit.
In the reshuffle, the `big four` comprising Finance,
Home, External Affairs and Defence is not expected to witness
any change. There could be changes in the middle level -- like
ministers being given Independent charge in the rank of
Ministers of State.
Tribal Affairs Minister Kanti Lal Bhuria, who was
recently made Madhya Pradesh PCC President, may be relieved
of his ministerial responsibility to take up party work full
time in the BJP-ruled state.
Providing fodder to the mill, Power Minister
Sushilkumar Shinde hinted at being more than willing to be a
candidate for the Vice Presidential election scheduled next
69-year old Shinde, a prominent Dalit face of the
party and is a known loyalist of the Gandhi-Nehru family,
has completed five years as Power Minister.
In view of the assembly elections in half-a-dozen
states including UP, Punjab and Uttarakhand, the Congress
leadership will take suitable steps which will help the party
in the polls.
There are a number of ministers holding dual charge
like Kapil Sibal who has Telecom and HRD. There is also talk
of removing non performing ministers.