New Delhi: HRD Minister Kapil Sibal was
on Monday given the additional charge of the Telecom Ministry in
an indication that an early reshuffle or expansion of the
Union Council of Ministers may be unlikely.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave the Telecom portfolio,
from which controversial A Raja resigned last night, to Sibal
in a move that takes away the ministry from the DMK at least
for the time being.
The arrangement is seen to be temporary in view of the
ongoing Parliament session when issues related to the ministry
are to be handled at the senior level, particularly when
allegations of corruption in 2G spectrum allocation have
Normally, a reshuffle of the Council of Ministers is
not undertaken during a Parliament session.
Sibal, a renowned lawyer-turned-politician, was last
week given the additional charge of Ministries of Science and
Technology and Earth Sciences, which fell vacant after
incumbent Prithviraj Chavan was made chief minister of
Commenting on the additional charge given to him,
Sibal said any ministry when given is a challenge and
decisions should be taken after proper thinking.
Reacting to the Prime Minister`s move, DMK parliamentary
party leader TR Baalu said party chief M Karunanidhi has not
yet decided on a successor to A Raja and suggested that Sibal
getting Telecom as additional charge could be a "stop-gap
"No one has any say on the issue except the Prime
Minister. As such, our leader (M Karunanidhi) has not given
any name to succeed Raja to the Prime Minister," he said here.
"It is 100 per cent the prerogative of the Prime
Minister to allot vacant portfolios. DMK has three Cabinet
slots in the UPA government and with the exit of Raja, one
slot is vacant," he said.
"Our leader will take a decision on the successor
after consultations with senior party leaders and then convey
the name to the Prime Minister," he said.
In another decision, V Narayanasamy, Minister of State
for Parliamentary Affairs, was given additional charge of
Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which also fell
vacant after Chavan`s departure.
Congress sources said Sibal being given additional
charge does not mean that the portfolio has been taken away
from the DMK.
But, they said, he was given the charge because he
understands the nuances of telecom subject.