New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday held a series of meetings over the impending reshuffle in the Union Cabinet. By all indications, the party leadership is expected to go for major changes, aimed at giving a push to the reforms agenda of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ahead of next Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
Although the reshuffle was in the offing for a while now, the process was hastened after six Trinamool Congress ministers resigned from the Union Cabinet last week over the hike in diesel prices, cap of LPG cylinders and FDI in multi-brand retail.
As per reports, as many as 15 new faces would be inducted in the cabinet.
With CP Joshi taking charge of the Rail Ministry (his name appears to have been confirmed for rail bhavan), a key ministry which has come to Congress kitty after 16 years, the talk is that efficiency will be the watch word in the reshuffle exercise especially in infrastructure ministries to get the economy going.
With six ministers from TMC leaving, two to three Congress leaders from West Bengal are expected to be accommodated. The names of Deepa Dashmunshi and Adhir Choudhury, known detractors of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and West Bengal PCC chief Pradeep Bhatacharjee are doing the rounds.
The other names doing the rounds are that of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Andhra cinestar Chiranjeevi, Tariq Anwar, Jyoti Mirdha, Meenakshi Natarajan, KR Rahman Khan, Janardhan Dwivedi, Manish Tiwari, Vilas Muttemwar, PL Punia, Satyvarat Chaturvedi, Narayan Rane, Gurudas Kamat and Shashi Tharoor.
Those who appear to be on the way out are SM Krishna, Beni Prasad Verma, Subodh Kant Sahay, Sriprakash Jaiswal, Mukul Wasnik and Agatha Sangma.
Krishna is said to be dropped to let him focus on Karnataka state politics ahead of the Assembly Elections due next year.
Earlier in the day, those who met Sonia at her official residence at 10 Janpath included CP Joshi, Prithviraj Chavan. AICC incharge for Maharashtra Mohan Prakash also met Gandhi.
The Congress president also held deliberations with Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, AICC treasurer Motilal Vora and her secretary Ahmed Patel.
There was earlier a talk that Azad could be drafted for party work. However, there was no confirmation.
As per reports, the reshuffle could take place before President Pranab Mukherjee’s tour to Jammu and Kashmir beginning Wednesday.
If not then the process may be delayed by 15 days and take place by the middle of next month as the pitrapaksha period (many Hindus avoid making new beginnings during the period) would begin by the end of this month.
A reshuffle of the AICC secretariat is also on the cards and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi is expected to get a larger responsibility in the organisation.