Cabinet reshuffle soon to fill up vacancies

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to effect a reshuffle of his council of ministers shortly.

NEW DELHI: As many as seven ministerial berths are lying vacant after the exit of five DMK ministers in March and the resignations of Ashwani Kumar as law minister and Pawan Kumar Bansal as railway minister last month.

Priority will be given to election- bound states such as Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan which appointing the ministers. Maharashtra and Orissa may also gain from the reshuffle.

Maharashtra has lost four ministerial berths in the recent past. Science and technology ministry fell vacant after Vilasrao Deshmukh passed away last year. Prithviraj Chavan had to quit Union cabinet to replace Ashok Chavan as chief minister of Maharashtra. Mukul Wasnik and Gurudas Kamat were also dropped from the cabinet last year.

Sources said delay in evolving a proper package for Maharashtra is delaying a final decision on the reshuffle. The Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are mulling to bring Prithviraj Chavan back to the Cabinet and send home minister Sushilkumar Shinde as Maharashtra chief minister.

Congress sources said Chavan has become very unpopular with party MLAs. Many partymen have told the high command that elections cannot be fought successfully with Chavan at the helm.

Sources said Shinde is resisting any move to shunt him back to Mumbai. Chavan, who is in Delhi, is expected to meet party brass on Wednesday.

If Shinde is shifted out, defence minister A. K. Antony may be moved to the home ministry.

The name of a senior cabinet minister is doing the rounds for the defence ministry.

A couple of ministers who are keen to work for the party may be dropped and some new faces may be inducted into the cabinet. Last year, several Union ministers, including Jairam Ramesh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Salman Khurshid and C. P. Joshi, had expressed their desire to work for the party.

The vacant cabinet slots are -- law, railways and chemicals and fertilizers. While Srikant Jena, holding the charge of chemicals and fertilizers as Mos, Independent, may be elevated to the cabinet rank, Kapil Sibal may retain both law and telecom.

C. P. Joshi, who is holding surface transport and railways, is keen to retain railways.

Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.

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