Congress plans cabinet shuffle without Rahul
The much-touted cabinet reshuffle scheduled to be carried out after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh returns from Kerala may end up as an exercise in filling vacancies, with a few adjustments here and there. Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office told Millennium Post that the changes are likely to be carried our after 13 September, when Singh returns to Delhi.
The Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s much-anticipated foray into the government in a 'bigger and proactive role' is unlikely to become a reality. Sources told Millennium Post that Gandhi will continue to concentrate on strengthening the party for the General Election in 2014.
The only ally who will benefit from this reshuffle will be the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). After the recent NCP-Congress stand-off, Supriya Sule, the daughter of the NCP chief Sharad Pawar will make the cut and most likely join the council of ministers in this reshuffle. It is unlikely that the DMK gets back telecom and textiles portfolios. The fate of the other NCP minister Agatha Sangma, the daughter of P A Sangma, also seems to be sealed. The other senior party leader Tariq Anwar may be inducted at her place.
The surprise element in the reshuffle is likely to be the Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi. He may get the rank of minister of state.
With Pranab Mukherjee now occupying the high office of the president, some Congress leaders from West Bengal may be inducted into the cabinet. The Pradesh Congress Committee feels that Bengal is not being represented adequately. Deepa Dasmunshi, the wife of the ailing Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, or Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the fiery Congress MP from Berhampore, may be given a chance.
The stewardship of top four ministries at Raisina Hills – home, finance, external affairs and defence – will remain unchanged. The party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mukul Wasnik might find their way back to the organisation. The only minister who seems to be facing the guillotine is the head of steel ministry Beni Prasad Verma. The Congress bosses are unhappy with his stint in the ministry and also over the dismal performance of the party in his area of influence during the Uttar Pradesh assembly election.
According to Congress sources, Gurudas Kamat, the MP from Mumbai, the Congress spokespersons Renuka Chaudhary and Manish Tewari and the leader from Maharashtra Vilas Muttemwar are frontrunners for induction into the council of ministers.
The former deputy chairperson of the Rajya Sabha Rahman Khan is all set to get charge of the minority affairs portfolio, with Salman Khurshid retaining just the law ministry. While Veerappa Moily may retain the power ministry, which he is holding as an additional charge, and may lose corporate affairs. Anand Sharma, who holds two portfolios of commerce and textiles, will be asked to let go of textiles to a new face from the party. Similarly, Vayalar Ravi will be relieved of the additional charge of science and technology ministry, while he will retain the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.