Cabinet reshuffle: Top 4 portfolios may not be touched

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New Delhi, Jan 19 (PTI) The much-talked aboutreshuffle and expansion of the Union Council of Ministers willbe carried out this evening amid indications that the ''bigfour'' incumbents in Finance, Home, Defence and ExternalAffairs may not be disturbed.

There was speculation that Beni Prasad Verma from UttarPradesh is being made a Cabinet Minister while Praful Patelmay be elevated to Cabinet rank. Ministers of state Ajay Makenand K V Thomas are expected to get independent charge.

This would be the first cabinet reshuffle in theUPA-II after it retained power in May 2009

K C Venugopal, a first timer from Allapuzha, is likelyto become Minister of state following the exit of Kerala MPShashi Tharoor from the Ministry. Kerala is poll bound andVenugopal hails from the influential Nair community.

The talk is that in the "moderate" exercise, the PrimeMinister could go in for changes in portfolios to give a newlook to the government reeling under a series of scams.

Sports Minister M S Gill is among the ministers who maybe dropped.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has also intensifiedconsultations over the reconstitution of the AICC, which isexpected soon.

Gandhi held consultations with party general secretaryRahul Gandhi as also her political secretary Ahmed Pateltoday amid indications that some of those being dropped fromthe government would be drafted for party work.

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