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HindustanTimes Tue,30 Sep 2014

Ministers brace for reshuffle, call off US trips

Gaurav Choudhury and Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 22, 2012
First Published: 00:29 IST(22/9/2012) | Last Updated: 08:12 IST(22/9/2012)

The prevailing political uncertainty and the much-anticipated cabinet reshuffle appear to have grounded plans of several key ministers to visit the US later this month.

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Among those who have called off their visits include power minister M Veerappa Moily, law minister Salman Khurshid, road transport minister CP Joshi and minister of state for telecom and IT Sachin Pilot.

However, plan panel deputy chief Montek Singh Ahluwalia is going ahead with his US visit to participate in a string of key investors' meet next week.

All the ministers who have called off their visits for now have cited various reasons. These include the need to stay put in the Capital to help the government tide over the crisis.

With the government having weathered the storm triggered by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's decision to snap ties with the UPA coalition, the cancellation of the ministers' foreign visits is being seen as a clear indicator of PM Manmohan Singh preparing to give a new look to his government.

Six ministerial slots have fallen vacant on Friday following TMC's withdrawal, and eight ministers are holding additional portfolios.

The latest round of reshuffle, which will be the third in the UPA's second innings, is expected to be the last major exercise by the PM before the next general elections.

The rejig is likely to provide DMK more representation in the cabinet, which was reduced following the resignations of A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran.

After the elevation of UPA's ace trouble-shooter Pranab Mukherjee as the President, new faces from West Bengal will be inducted. The names of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Deepa Dasmunsi and Mausam Noor are doing the rounds.


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