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Loyalists can expect rewards

Having silenced her critics within the party with a rousing win, will Sheila Dikshit now get to influence the High Command and have a set of new Cabinet ministers entirely of her choice?

delhi Updated: Dec 09, 2008 00:44 IST
HT Correspondent

Having silenced her critics within the party with a rousing win, will Sheila Dikshit now get to influence the High Command and have a set of new Cabinet ministers entirely of her choice?

The buzz in Congress circles, both at the state unit office at DDU Marg and at the AICC office on Akbar Road, on Monday was that the victory would give Dikshit the right to politically neutralise her detractors and to reward her loyalists.

“While we expect the usual equation of a Muslim, a Sikh, a person from the trader class etc to be maintained, some heads would make way for more of Madam’s men. There are also talks of more add-on portfolios this time,” said a senior DPCC member.

The fate of Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf, whose tenure has been mired in controversy with the alleged PDS scam and the Blueline accidents is said to be hanging in the balance.

The pundits predict Labour Minister Mangat Ram Singhal will be booted out as well. “The CM and her advisers appear to be under the impression that he could have increased the government’s interaction with the industry on various fronts,” said a party source.

Health, perceived as another “sitting duck” of a department, may not see much change thanks to minister Yoganand Shastri’s track record of taking care of a portfolio that could have otherwise been a source of bad press and the Opposition’s nitpicking.

Arvinder Singh Lovely is likely to make the cut without hassle. Sources said the Education Minister, who saw the government through three tumultuous years in nursery admissions that caused widespread outrage among parents, schools and students, was about to be red-carded to make way for a ‘more loyal’ Dikshit hand. “But as luck would have it, there was no other Sikh eligible enough to replace him,” the source said.

“Dr AK Walia, too, has a clean record as the finance minister and he is relatively new in his additional charges,” said another insider from the DPCC.

But the one to get the most out of the victory, some said, was PWD minister and Mangolpuri MLA Raj Kumar Chauhan, considered a hardcore Dikshit man. His caste vote-bank apart, he can also play the representative of the Outer Delhi vote bank in the government.

“He maintains the necessary balance in the CM’s urbane coterie,” the party official said.