PM, Sonia to meet to fix Chidambaram, Mamata, Pranab's fates

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Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi
New Delhi, Jul 10: Ahead of the crucial union cabinet reshuffle 2011, Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh and Congress president, Sonia Gandhi again will meet in the national capital on Sunday, Jul 10. The two UPA leaders met for the fourth time since it (UPA) has declared its plan for cabinet reshuffle.

Earlier, PM and Sonia Gandhi met on Saturday and reportedly discussed the performances of the ministers holding crucial portfolios in the union cabinet.

Now, sources informed that Manmohan Singh and the Congress president will take decisions on big four ministers - Mukherjee, defence minister AK Antony, home minister P Chidambaram and external affairs minister SM Krishna - are unlikely to be touched though the initial thinking was to move out Krishna.

With Congress' trouble-shooter and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee visiting Chennai to meet with DMK Chief Karuananidhi and offering him two Cabinet berths, the former Tamil Nadu CM remained non-committal and has not confirmed whether he will accept the offer or let it pass considering the changed equations with the Centre. Three of the top DMK party members have been caught in the spectrum scam including Karunanidhi's daughter, Kanimozhi and presently housed in the Tihar Jail.

With the UPA hoping to put the past behind and focusing on pleasing allies for the future, there are posts that needs to be filled, especially when Cabinet Minister s are being burdened with dual roles. There are also additional posts open when Corporate Affairs Minister Murli Deora has expressed interest not to continue in the Cabinet. The resignation of Dayanidhi Maran as Union Textile Minister has also opened yet another portfolio for berth-seekers.

Other portfolios to be filled included the Railway Ministry that was left vacant after Mamta Banerjee assumed the role of CM of West Bengal. Kapil Sibal hold dual responsibility of Human Resource Development and Telecom; while Pawan Kumar Bansal handles Science and Technology, Earth Sciences and Parliamentary Affairs.

With the DMK still undecided on their role in the revamped Cabinet, the regional party is in no position to dictate terms to the Centre following the arrest of Raja and Kanimozhi and the recent resignation of Maran. The PM had earlier expressed apprehension on the inclusion of former road transport minister T R Baalu into the Cabinet, a move that could work to the advantage of T S Elangovan.

With the UPA in dire straits following the spate of corruptions and scams that emerged during its regime, the cabinet reshuffle is being considered a welcome measure to sooth hostile allies and forge new ones. But will they be successful in achieving it remains to be seen.

OneIndia News

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