Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 45-minute-long meeting with President Pratibha Patil on Monday strengthened indications of a reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers later this week for a few inductions.Though major portfolios like finance, home, defence and external affairs are unlikely to be disturbed, the PM is expected to inject fresh faces during the rejig of other portfolios.
The changes would be in tune with a reconstitution of the AICC Secretariat, which is on the cards. Some ministers might be asked to take up party work.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had a detailed discussion with the PM more than twice in the last week to plan out the exercise, which would be the first after the UPA-II came to power in May 2009.
The exercise is intended to relieve burdened ministers and fill vacancies caused by the exit of former ministers A Raja (DMK), Shashi Tharoor and Prithiviraj Chavan (Congress).
Among the Cabinet ministers, Sharad Pawar and Kapil Sibal, who are holding more than one portfolio, are likely to shed some of their load. Pawar, who holds agriculture, food and consumer affairs ministries, had earlier said he would want to give up some posts.
Sibal who was made telecom minister after Raja's exit, is said to be keen to retain HRD so that he can oversee reforms.
He might give up science and technology. The PM may want Sibal to look after telecom for more time to initiate transparency in the ministry's functioning.
Among the allies, the DMK may name its nominee in place of Raja in the Cabinet. The name of TR Baalu, a former minister, is doing the rounds.
The PM, however, was not too happy with his earlier performance. Baalu had met Gandhi a few days ago.
Sudip Bandhopadhyay, a Trinamool Congress leader, may get a berth as a representative of the largest constituent after Congress in the UPA.
The PM and the President also discussed the upcoming budget session and issues like price rise and internal security, a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said.