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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

Big-bang reshuffle unlikely, top four to keep portfolios

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times  New Delhi/Chennai, July 08, 2011
First Published: 23:34 IST(8/7/2011) | Last Updated: 02:26 IST(9/7/2011)

There is no hint so far that the "expansive" cabinet reshuffle promised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will see any changes next week in the big four portfolios - finance, home, defence and external affairs.

Also, the DMK on Friday said it had decided not to press for a replacement to fill the vacancy caused by textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran's resignation on Thursday.

The DMK's view was stated by its parliamentary party chief TR Baalu in the wake of the possibility of a breakfast meeting between finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and DMK chief M Karunanidhi in Chennai on Saturday.

Baalu said Mukherjee "may meet our leader (Karunanidhi) tomorrow".

Home minister P Chidambaram is also likely to be in Chennai on Saturday.

Among the top four, external affairs minister SM Krishna apparently got a nod from the PM to go ahead with preparations for key engagements, including the visit of US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to India for the Indo-US strategic dialogue on July 19 and the Asean meet in Indonesia three days later.

The PM's nod was seen by the Krishna camp as a "clear indication" that he would continue as foreign minister.

Top Congress sources also indicated that the PM wants to induct nominated Rajya Sabha MP Ashok Ganguly to handle the science and technology ministry, currently handled by Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Regarding Mukherjee's visit to Chennai, sources close to him said the minister is likely to reiterate to the DMK patriarch that the government had no role in the Maran episode as the CBI was working directly under the Supreme Court.

The Congress also wanted to send a message that it was not thinking of snapping ties with the DMK.

Karunanidhi's priority, however, is to seek an early release of his daughter Kanimozhi from Tihar jail on bail.

DMK insiders said top party leaders did not want to be seen as jockeying for ministerial positions.

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