New Delhi: A reshuffle-cum-expansion of the Union Council of Ministers could take place next week. Sources say the rejig could happen as early as even by Monday in which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could utilize the opportunity to fill several vacancies in his council of ministers.
The exercise is expected to be the last reshuffle in the UPA 2 with Lok Sabha elections less than a year away.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier said that there are some vacancies and the issue of filling them up is being considered. The latest vacancies in the Council of Ministers were created by the resignations of Union Ministers PK 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 resigned as Law Minister following a 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 CP Joshi as an additional charge while that of Law has gone to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal as additional ministry.
Under the reshuffle, ministers holding two portfolios could be divested of one. With DMK and TMC withdrawing support from 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 ministries. The only cabinet minister they had was MK 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 telecom spectrum allocation scam. 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.
Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is also the general secretary of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, could be divested of the responsibilities of the states.
There are indications that AICC general secretary and media department in-charge Janardan Dwivedi may give up the charge of the media, a job he had done for six years. The name of a number of party leaders, including Ambika Soni and Digvijaya Singh, are doing rounds for the post.
Some of the incharges of the states are also likley to be reshuffled.
The exercise is expected to be the last reshuffle in the UPA-II with Lok Sabha elections less than a year away.