PM wants Rahul to become minister, but will he respond?

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New Delhi, Sept 1: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that he hoped Rahul Gandhi would consider his offer to become a minister this time. Singh said, amid speculation about a probable reshuffle in the Union council of ministers, that he always wanted Rahul Gandhi to play a more active role in the government, adding that he had invited the latter many times to join the Cabinet. The PM said he did not know anything about Rahul's plans.

A reshuffle is overdue for at least eight ministers in the current council hold more than one portfolio. The council can have 82 members at the most but it is currently short by 14 members. Ministers like Vyalar Ravi, Kapil Sibal, M Veerappa Moily, Anand Sharma and Salman Khurshid are holding multiple portfolios. The DMK, an ally in the UPA, has also been seeking replacements for Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja, both of whom resigned.

In July, Rahul had said that he was ready to play a larger role in the party and the government but added that the timing was upto the leadership to decide. The debate on Rahul's 'bigger role' was triggered by Khurshid who said that Rahul needed to give a direction to the party ahead of the next elections. Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, too, had said that Rahul would play a bigger role by September.

Before the current parliamentary session, many Congress MPs had also asked party president Sonia Gandhi to make Rahul the Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha following the exit of Pranab Mukherjee, who went to become the President. However, the party leadership chose Gandhi loyalist Sushilkumar Shinde for the post.

Sonia Gandhi had said that no one could take a decision for Rahul and the final decision had to be taken by himself in this regard.

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