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Reshuffle of Union Council of Ministers likely

Reshuffle of Union Council of Ministers likely

New Delhi: A reshuffle-cum-expansion of the Union Council of Ministers may be undertaken in the next fortnight.

Sources say that the rejig could happen between June 6 and June 12, which may be the last reshuffle in the UPA 2 with Lok Sabha elections less than a year away.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Friday indicated that a Cabinet reshuffle could be on the cards to fill up the vacancies.

"There are some vacancies. The issue of filling them up is being considered," Singh told reporters on his way back from Japan and Thailand.

The Prime Minister was asked whether he was contemplating a Cabinet reshuffle in view of vacancies created by the resignations of P K Bansal and Ashwani Kumar.

Bansal quit as Railways Minister earlier this month in the wake of bribery scandal involving his nephew and a Railway Board member. Kumar also resigned as Law Minister following controversy over vetting of a CBI probe report on coal block allocation scam.

The portfolio of Railways has been given to Road and Highways Minister C P Joshi as an additional charge while that of Law has gone to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal as additional ministry.

With DMK and TMC withdrawing support from the UPA government within less than a year, a number of slots vacated by them are yet to filled up. Five ministers of DMK had resigned on March 20 this year after which there has been no rejig in the Union Council of Ministers.

They were holding Minister of State position in finance, commerce and industry, health and family welfare and social justice. The only Cabinet minister they had was M K Alagiri, who was in-charge of Chemical and Fertilisers.

Two Cabinet Ministers of DMK had resigned earlier -- Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja, the latter in connection with the 2G scam. The DMK had not nominated any other representative to fill these vacancies even when it continued to support the government then.

Besides, there are a number of other ministers holding more than one portfolios. They are likely to be asked to shed one of them.

A number of ministers are also likely to be asked to quit because the party is keen to draft them for organisational works ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls.

A reshuffle of the party organisation in the AICC, which is long overdue can also happen simultaneously or a little before or later.


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