Less than 48 hours before the expected cabinet reshuffle, external affairs minister SM Krishna, 80, the oldest member in the union council of ministers, put in his papers on Friday and set the ball rolling for the induction of new, younger faces in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s team.
Indian foreign minister SM Krishna attends the East Asia Summit held on the sidelines of the 45th annual ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh. AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam
While the UPA brass is expected to take away additional responsibilities from most ministers holding dual portfolios, party general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s impact on the reshuffle would be evident as his young nominees are set to be roped in to give a fresh look to the council of ministers.
Gandhi himself has announced that he is ready for a bigger role and is expected to officially become the second-in-command to mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
After Krishna’s exit, HRD minister Kapil Sibal is seen as a frontrunner to become the next foreign minister.
Krishna’s decision also came a day after Karnataka lokayukta court ordered a probe against him, as well as two other former CMs — former prime minister HD Deve Gowda and BS Yeddyurappa, on a complaint alleging irregularities in the Bangalore-Mysore expressway.
The proposed reshuffle on Sunday morning may see more high-profile Congress ministers quitting the government to work for the party as it has already started gearing up for the next general election. The political circle is abuzz that ministers like Jairam Ramesh (rural development) and Subodh Kant Sahay (tourism) may be asked to take up full-time organisational responsibilities.
Information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni and social justice and empowerment minister Mukul Wasnik have expressed desire to quit to work for the party.