Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to go for a mix of youth and experience when he undertakes the much-awaited reshuffle of his council of ministers on Tuesday.
The exercise, which Singh promised would be expansive, was given final shape on Monday when Congress president Sonia Gandhi met him for another round of consultations.At the 5pm swearing-in at Rashtrapati Bhavan, there will be some new faces. A few ministers may see their responsibilities and stature grow, but some may be dropped.
Minister of state for health Dinesh Trivedi will get cabinet rank and take charge of railways. The position has been vacant since May when Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee took over as West Bengal chief minister. Trivedi will be the second cabinet minister from his party.
Sudip Bandhopadhyay, his party’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha, will be inducted as a minister of state in place of Trivedi. The PM spoke to Bandhopadhyay on Monday and invited him to join his council of ministers.
With Uttar Pradesh going to the polls next year, minister of state for steel Beni Prasad Verma, who holds independent charge, is likely to be promoted as a cabinet minister.
BK Handique, MS Gill and Kantilal Bhuria are likely to be axed. While Handique has opted out because of his health, Bhuria has been appointed the Madhya Pradesh Congress president. Gill is reported to have sounded some party colleagues about his possible exit.
Corporate affairs minister Murli Deora, too, has offered to step down.
The “Big Four” — finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram, defence minister AK Antony and external affairs minister SM Krishna — are unlikely to be touched.
Krishna has been reportedly asked to keep his schedule, which includes a press meet on Wednesday and India-US strategic dialogue with secretary of state Hillary Clinton in Delhi on July 19.
Law minister M Veerappa Moily was asked to cancel his Australia tour and stay put in the Capital, triggering speculation that he may be divested off his portfolio.
But his colleague, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was given the go-ahead to stay in China till Wednesday. Those holding charge of two major portfolios, like Kapil Sibal, will have to let go of one.
Punjab Youth Congress chief Ravneet Singh Bittu, Agra MP Raj Babbar, the lone Congress MP from Chhattisgarh, Charan Das Mahant, and Pabansingh Ghatowar, Congress MP from Dibrugarh in Assam, are being talked about as possible newcomers.
Gurudas Kamat and E Ahamed of the Indian Union Muslim League, both ministers of state, are likely to get independent charge. Three ministers of state are likely to be dropped.