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New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is unlikely to join the Manmohan Singh government in a cabinet reshuffle scheduled for Sunday, sources in the party and Rashtrapati Bhavan said yesterday.
According to Congress sources, the reshuffle will be a precursor to a change in the organisational set-up of the party which is aiming to create a new team to face the 2014 general elections and a slew of state polls next year.
The Congress and the party-led central government have been hit by controversies revolving around alleged corruption in the allocation of coal blocks. Individual graft allegations have also surfaced against some union ministers and even Robert Vadra, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law.
According to Congress sources, the portfolios of some ministers with dual charges may change and some fresh faces may join the government to fill the six slots of junior ministers, which became vacant after Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress quit the United Progressive Alliance in September. Party sources said some young leaders may make it to the government at the instance of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia and Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Sachin Pilot may be elevated, they said.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, MP Deepa Dasmunshi and actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi, who merged his Praja Rajyam Party with the Congress last year, are likely to be the fresh faces in the cabinet, the sources said.
Rahul Gandhi’s close associates Manicka Tagore and Meenakshi Natarajan could also be inducted into the cabinet, said the sources.
Among the ministers who may be dropped from the cabinet are Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai and Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna could also be in this group, said the sources.
Both Sahai and Jaiswal came under attack from the opposition on the coal blocks allocation issue.
Ministers holding dual charge, including Human Resource Development and Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, Law and Justice and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Power and Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily, may be left with a single portfolio each, said the sources.
With the death of Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was minister for science and technology, there was a vacancy for a cabinet post for a leader from Maharashtra, said the sources.
The party sources said that the reshuffle would give sufficient time to the new ministers to be prepared for the winter session likely to be held November-December.
From among the UPA constituents, Agatha Sangma, minister of state for rural development, may be replaced with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Tariq Anwar.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar is said to be miffed with Agatha after she defied the party line and campaigned for her father and former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma, who contested the presidential poll against UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee. IANS