Sonia Gandhi meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Posted By: Pti
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New Delhi, Jan 18 (PTI) Congress president SoniaGandhi today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh amidspeculation that a reshuffle of the Union Council ofMinisters is on the cards later this week.

Gandhi met Singh at his residence here. She wasaccompanied by her political secretary Ahmed Patel.

The meeting comes a day after the Prime Minister metPresident Pratibha Patil.Though it was described as a routinemeeting, there were indications that a re-jig of the UPAministry was possible later this week.

Sources said that Singh may utilise the opportunity toinject fresh blood into the Cabinet.

Ministers like Sharad Pawar and Kapil Sibal areholding more than one portfolio and are likely to shed some ofthem.

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 ConsumerAffairs Ministries, has earlier expressed his intention toshed some of his burden.

Similarly, Sibal who has the charge of HRD, Telecomand Science and Technology, may shed Science and Technology.

He is said to be passionate about retaining HRD in which hehas initiated certain 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 inthe Union ministry -- Chhattisgarh, Goa and Manipur.

Gandhi had detailed deliberations with Singh more thantwice in the last week, apparently to plan out the exercise,which would be the first after the UPA-II came to power in May2009.

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