Union Cabinet expansion on Apr 6

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New Delhi, Apr 6: The four-year-old Manmohan Singh government will be expanded this evening, in an exercise that is essentially necessitated by the Congress' plan to recast the All India Congress Committee and a few state party units ahead of the assembly elections in many states.

Official sources said here today that the much-awaited expansion-cum-reshuffle would take place at the Ashoka Hall of the Rashtrapathi Bhavan at 1900 hrs. President Pratibha Devisingh Patil would administer the oath of office at a function to be attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. This will be the third expansion of the Council of Ministers headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh since the Congress-led UPA government came to power in May 2004.

The Prime Minister yesterday called on the President and discussed the cabinet expansion with her. Though there has been a talk about the expansion of the cabinet for some time, the meeting between Mr Singh and Ms Patil fuelled the speculation.

It is likely that the expansion would be restricted to induction of a few new faces from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. It is also likely that there will be minor reshuffle of portfolios.

Names of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasada and V Hanumantha Rao are doing rounds for possible induction.

Congress sources said the AICC secretariat would have to be recast in the light of the cabinet expansion.

Informed sources said Overseas Indian Affiars Minister Vayalar Ravi will be given additional charge of Parliamentary Affairs as Information and Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunsi has been entrusted with party work after he was appointed West Bengal PCC president. However, Mr Dasmunsi will retain his portfolio. Indications are that RJD's Raghunath Jha's inclusion is a possibility as party chief Lalu Prasad wanted more quota.

UNI

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