Cabinet reshuffle may be postponed by a week

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The much-awaited Cabinet reshuffle could be delayed further for a week as the Congress leadership is busy holding internal discussions on the political situation after the Trinamool Congress’ withdrawal of support to the UPA Government.

Indications are that the exercise may not be a major one. The signs were evident from the Road and Transport Minister, C.P. Joshi, being given the additional charge of Railways. The Congress believes that the Railways is the engine of growth and wants to retain the Ministry, especially when the Government is pushing ahead with major reforms in various sectors.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is meeting a delegation of the Congress unit in West Bengal amid demands that the party MPs from the State should get at least three Cabinet berths.

Leaders from Maharashtra are also trying for an entry into the Cabinet. Senior leaders Narayan Rane and V. Muttemwar are reportedly lobbying for the Cabinet post that became vacant after the demise of Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Party sources indicated that the DMK leadership will also be consulted before the revamp. The DMK has been trying to get the two Cabinet berths vacated by the resignations of A. Raja and Dayanidhi Maran. Names of former minister T.R. Baalu and party spokesperson T.K.S. Elangovan are doing rounds in the Capital for the posts.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee for about 45 minutes. A statement from the Rashtrapati Bhavan said they discussed the current political situation.

After accepting the resignation of Trinamool Congress ministers and their party’s letter of withdrawing support to the Government, the President is likely to meet the leaders of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. Both parties have pledged their support to the UPA Government. Neither party, however, is keen to join the Cabinet.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 23, 2012)
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