Cabinet reshuffle: PM, Sonia Gandhi meet ends
New Delhi: Amid speculation that a substantive reshuffle of Union Council of Ministers is likely in the next few days, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Congress president Sonia Gandhi Friday evening to finalise the changes.
The meeting between the two is part of the Congress Core Group deliberations. The reshuffle has been in the offing for past few months.
The reshuffle is seen as a precursor to a change in the organisational set-up of the party which is aiming to create a new team to face the 2014 general elections and a slew of state polls next year.
According to Congress sources, the portfolios of some ministers with dual charges may change and some fresh faces may be inducted into the government to fill the six slots of junior ministers, which became vacant after Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress quit the United Progressive Alliance in September.
Party sources said some young leaders may make it to the government at the instance of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi but he himself is unlikely to join the cabinet.
Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia and Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Sachin Pilot may be elevated, they said.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, MP Deepa Dasmunshi and actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi, who merged his Praja Rajyam Party with the Congress last year, are likely to be the fresh faces in the cabinet, the sources said.
Rahul Gandhi's close associates Manicka Tagore and Meenakshi Natarajan could also be inducted into the council of ministers, said the sources.
Among the ministers who may be dropped from the cabinet are Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai and Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma.
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna could also be in this group, said the sources.
Both Sahai and Jaiswal came under attack from the opposition on the coal blocks allocation issue.
Ministers holding dual charge, including Human Resource Development and Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, Law and Justice and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Power and Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily, may be left with a single portfolio each, said the sources.
With the death of Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was minister for science and technology, there was a vacancy for a cabinet post for a leader from Maharashtra, said the sources.
The party sources said that the reshuffle would give sufficient time to the new ministers to be prepared for the winter session of parliament likely to be held Nov 22-Dec 20.
From among the UPA constituents, Agatha Sangma, minister of state for rural development, may be replaced with Nationalist Congress Party's senior leader Tariq Anwar.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar is said to be miffed with Agatha after she defied the party line and campaigned for her father and former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma, who contested the presidential poll against UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee.
Though there were cabinet berths vacated by DMK leaders A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran, who had to leave after their names cropped up in the 2G case, the UPA constituent may not claim the vacated slots in the new cabinet, sources indicated.
With IANS inputs