Amid increased speculation over a possible cabinet reshuffle sometime in July, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday refused to give a specific date to the much anticipated exercise.
“That is a work in progress,” he said at an interaction with a group of editors. “I can’t tell you. I cannot predict” was his reply when the editors persisted with questions on the timing and the magnitude of the exercise.
But the talk in the political circles is that the expansion-cum- reshuffle could take place either on July 1-2 or after President Pratibha Patil returns from her Hyderabad on July 8. However, it will be certainly ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, beginning August 1.
Singh had also made it clear after the Cabinet rejig in January that "a more expansive exercise" will take place after the budget session.
There are few vacancies in the council of ministers. Some ministers such as Kapil Sibal and Vilasrao Deshmukh are holding dual charge. Ministers like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mukul Wasnik are holding the charge of party functionaries - both are general secretaries and in-charge of many states.
Railways is without a Cabinet minister after Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee took over as the West Bengal CM. There is also speculation that while some ministers such as Kantilal Bhuria and BK Handique might be dropped, the portfolios of many others would be changed.