Cabinet reshuffle likely soon; PM meets President

New Delhi, Jan 17 (PTI) A reshuffle of the Union Councilof Ministers with a few inductions is likely to take placelater this week.

An indication of this came after a meeting between PrimeMinister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil thisevening.

Though official sources described it as a routinemeeting, indications were available that a rejig of the UPAministry was possible later this week.

Sources said that the Prime Minister may utilise theopportunity to inject fresh blood.

Ministers like Sharad Pawar and Kapil Sibal are holdingmore than one portfolio and are likely to shed some of them.

There are some vacancies including that created by theresignation of A Raja, Prithviraj Chavan and Shashi Tharoor.

The feeling in the Congress was that major portfolioslike Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs may not bedisturbed in the proposed exercise which is mainly aimed atfilling up the vacancies.

Pawar, who holds Agriculture, Food and Consumer AffairsMinistries, has earlier expressed his intention to shed someof his burden.

Similarly, Sibal has HRD, Telecom and Science andTechnology, may shed Science and Technology. He is said to bepassionate about retaining HRD in which he has initiatedcertain reforms and would like to pursue them.

He is unlikely to be disturbed from Telecom which wasgiven to him after Raja''s resignation in the wake of 2Gspectrum allocation scam.

Union Ministers C P Joshi (Rural Development) andVilasrao Deshmukh (Heavy Industry) may be drafted for partywork.

DMK, which has a vacancy in the Cabinet after Raja''sexit, may get a berth. The name of T R Baalu, a formerminister, is among those mentioned from the party as areplacement for Raja.

Sudip Bandhopadhyay, a Trinamool Congress leader, mayget a berth as a representative of the largest constituentafter Congress in the UPA.

There has been no representation to three states in theUnion ministry -- Chhattisgarh, Goa and Manipur.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi had detaileddeliberations with Singh more than twice in the last week,apparently to plan out the exercise, which would be the firstafter the UPA-II came to power in May 2009.

A reconstitution of the AICC Secretariat is also on thecards in which some ministers are expected to be drafted forparty work.

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