New Delhi: The Union Council of Ministers is likely to undergo a substantive reshuffle which could see the possible induction of Rahul Gandhi into the Cabinet along with some other new faces and the exit of a few ministers.
The changes, expected to take place on Sunday, could also witness ministers holding more than one portfolio shed their extra responsibilities, according to political sources.
It is no no secret that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is keen to have Rahul Gandhi inducted into his Cabinet but so far the young MP was not not inclined as he was focused on building the Congress organisation, especially the youth wing.
Another proposal making the rounds is that Gandhi may be elevated from being a General Secretary to the revived post of Working President.
Road and Transport Minister C P Joshi may shed his additional responsibility of Railways while External Affairs Minister S M Krishna’s continuance is a subject of considerable speculation amidst indication that he may be shifted to Karnataka where Assembly polls are due before next May.
Gandhi may have indicated to the prime minister when he met him on Oct 17 that he is willing to join the Cabinet and take a portfolio like Rural Development that touches the lives of people ahead of the 2014 elections.
The Congress is said to be working on more measures to reach the ‘aam aadmi’ (common man) on the lines of the NREG scheme which had paid rich dividends to the party in the last- elections.
A number of names is being considered for External Affairs portfolio which includes Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Salman Khurshid, who have not not have exactly helped his case by his handling of the issue of allegations against the trust run by him and his wife.
Younger ministers like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia are likely to be promoted and may get independent portfolios.
There has been speculation about a 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 had recently made clear that his party will not not like to reclaim their lost berths.
Today also Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy met Karunanidhi at his residence in Chennai, his third in a month. There was no no official word on what transpired.
Congress sources said that the reshuffle and induction could be largely from the party. There is also speculation that some young faces, considered close to Rahul, like Manicka Tagore and Meenakshi Natarajan could be inducted into the council of ministers.
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal (Telecom), Road and Transport Minister C P Joshi (Railways), Law Minister Salman Khurshid (Minority Affairs) and Corporate Affairs Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily (Power) and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi (MSME, S and T and Earth Sciences).
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.
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 Jaisawal 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.