The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leadership is hopeful about consolidating its position in the agriculture ministry following the cabinet reshuffle on Sunday.
Sources said NCP leaders had requested the UPA brass to allot a minister of state (MoS) slot in the agriculture ministry to its new nominee, Tariq Anwar. The ministry is headed by NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
NCP leaders had reportedly demanded a MoS (independent charge) berth for Anwar on an initial occasion.
Anwar, a senior leader, had spent a lot of time in the Congress before it split with the NCP. He served four terms in the Lok Sabha before coming to the Rajya Sabha in 2004. He is currently serving his second term in the Upper House.
"He is a very senior politician. He may feel awkward working as a junior minister with anybody other than Pawar," said a NCP source.
The Congress leadership, sources indicated, conveyed to the NCP that it may be tough to give it a MoS (independent charge) slot because it would upset the quota-based formula for distribution of berths. The NCP already has a cabinet minister and an MoS (independent charge) in the UPA.
If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh allows Anwar a seat in the agriculture ministry, Pawar may give him key assignments that require an experienced and senior hand.
Agatha Sangma is set to quit the council of ministers, making room for Anwar. Sangma fell out of favour after she actively campaigned for her father, PA Sangma, against UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee for the presidential polls.