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Minor cabinet reshuffle, big adjustments?

delhi Updated: Jun 08, 2009 00:31 IST
Saroj Nagi

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may go in for a minor cabinet reshuffle — which could also involve some high-level adjustment — after the ongoing Parliament session ends on June 9.

“It will be a small one. But it could also involve some high level adjustment,’’ said a Congress functionary, who sought anonymity. The changes are expected after the end of the ongoing session and before the Budget session, which is expected sometime around June 29.

The reshuffle is expected to take care of the allotment of Water Resources and Culture portfolios and address some anomalies in government formation crying for correction.

The anomalies include the absence of any cabinet minister from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (after Meira Kumar’s elevation as Speaker) and the inclusion of only cabinet minister (S. Jaipal Reddy) from Andhra Pradesh, though the state elected 33 Congress MPs.

They also include the induction of Orissa leader Srikant Jena as minister of state (MoS), though he was a cabinet minister in the United Front government in 1996. Jena — who would have to work under DMK’s first-time member M.K. Azhagiri in the ministry of fertilizers and chemicals — has still not taken charge in the hope that the mistake would be partially, if not fully, rectified.

Then, there is the curious case of Prithviraj Chavan. The Rajya Sabha member will have to function both as a minister of state (Independent charge) and as an ordinary MoS. He holds independent charge of the ministries of science and technology and earth sciences.

But he is MoS in the Prime Minister’s Office — the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions and the ministry of parliamentary affairs.

As MoS with independent charge, he can attend cabinet meetings if his subject is on the agenda.

Another anomaly is evident in the ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises where both the Cabinet minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his junior PP Patil hail from the same state — Maharashtra — something that is avoided in any cabinet formation.