It is now confirmed that the much delayed Union Cabinet reshuffle will finally take place on Sunday morning, that is October 28.
Sources have told CNN-IBN that discussions between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi are almost complete. External Affairs Minister SM Krishna is likely to be eased out of the cabinet.
But the suspense over Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi joining the government remains. Sources say Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot are among those likely to be elevated. The reshuffle could also involve some ministers caught in controversies like coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal.
Tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahai may also be dropped, say sources. The NCP has already said it will replace its minister Agatha Sangma. She is likely to be replaced with senior leader Tariq Anwar. Law Minister Salman Khurshid could lose Minorities Affair Ministry. Sports Minister Ajay Maken and Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan could also be elevated to cabinet ranks.
Following are the possibilities:
-Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot among young ministers likely to be elevated.
-Manish Tiwari, Deepa Dasmunshi, Chiranjeevi likely among new faces.
-Subodhkant Sahai, Beni Prasad Verma and SM Krishna may be among the ministers dropped.
-Beni Prasad Verma, Sriprakash Jaiswal and Ambika Soni may also be dropped.
-Ministers holding dual charge like Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Veerappa Moily likely to be stripped off one portfolio.
-Rehman Khan likely to get Minority Affairs Ministry.
-No suggestion yet on Rahul Gandhi joining the Cabinet.
There has been speculation about reshuffle in the Cabinet for quite some time now, especially after the exit of Trinamool Congress ministers both at the levels of Cabinet and Ministers of State levels. There have been berths vacated by DMK representatives A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran in the last two years after their names cropped in the 2G scam. However, DMK president M Karunanidhi recently made clear that his party would not like to reclaim their lost berths.
The speculation about Cabinet reshuffle gained fresh momentum after the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi met the President separately recently. Congress sources said that the reshuffle and induction could be largely from the party.
There is speculation that some young faces, considered close to Rahul, like Manicka Tagore and Meenakshi Natarajan could be inducted into the council of ministers. Some among the young ministers like Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasada may get promoted to Cabinet rank or get independent charge as Minister of State. The exercise could see some of the ministers holding charges of two ministries losing one of the portfolios.
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. 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.
With the death of Vilasrao Deshmukh, there is a vacancy for a Cabinet minister from Maharashtra. Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai and Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal have come under attack from the Opposition on the coal block allocation issue.
Changes in the government and the party could be taking place in tandem as there is a possibility that some of the ministers would be drafted for party work, sources said. They said the exercise could be a major affair as the team would be leading the party in the next Lok Sabha polls.
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