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, Ms Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister, Dr 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, Mr 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, Mr S S Palanimanickam may be upgraded to cabinet rank in the wake of resignations by his Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) colleagues, A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran from the cabinet.
The talk in Trinamool Congress is that Ms Mamata Banerjee could entrust senior leader, Mr Dinesh Trivedi with the Railways portfolio she vacated after becoming the West Bengal Chief Minister.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 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, Mr Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi is in jail.
Mr Karunanidhi, who met the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee in Chennai on Saturday, 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 urgency in the wake of resignation by Maran and Corporate Affairs Minister, Mr Murli Deora’s offer to quit. In the reshuffle, the ‘big four’ comprising the 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, Mr Kanti Lal Bhuria, who was recently made the 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 Mr Sushilkumar Shinde hinted at being more than willing to be a candidate for the vice presidential election scheduled next year.
Sixty nine-year-old Mr Shinde, a prominent Dalit face of the party and a known loyalist of the Gandhi-Nehru family, has completed five years as the 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 Mr Kapil Sibal who has Telecom and HRD. There is also talk of removing non-performing ministers.