Hectic parleys on cabinet reshuffle

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New Delhi, Jan 18 (PTI) Moves for a reshuffle of theUnion Council of Ministers gathered momentum today withCongress President Sonia Gandhi meeting Prime MinisterManmohan Singh amid indications that the exercise could takeplace by Friday.

Gandhi, who was accompanied by her Political SecretaryAhmed Patel, met Singh over two hours and is understood tohave given final touches to the exercise which could see someinductions, elevations and drafting some ministers for partywork. Senior leader Pranab Mukherjee also met Gandhi.

Sources said that the swearing in ceremony could takeplace either tomorrow or on Friday.

Significantly, Tribal Affairs Minister Kantilal Bhuriaand Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh met Gandhi triggeringspeculation that they could be asked to work for the party.

MPs Janardhan Dwivedi and Navin Jindal also met her.

Broadly indications were available that the ''big four''incumbents in Finance, Defence, Home and External Affairsportfolios would not be affected in the reshuffle.

There is speculation that Salman Khurshid and JairamRamesh of Congress and Praful Patel of NCP could be elevatedto Cabinet rank from the status of MoS Independent charge.

Khurshid, who is now in charge of Corporate Affairs andMinority Affairs, could move to Law Ministry in place VeerappaMoily who could be shifted to Human Resource Development,according to talk in the Congress circles. (More) PTI AMR MS

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