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Reshuffle rumblings grow louder

delhi Updated: Nov 11, 2010 00:29 IST
Saroj Nagi
Saroj Nagi
Hindustan Times
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Prithviraj Chavan's selection as chief minister of Maharashtra has given Prime Minister Manmohan Singh another reason to carry out the cabinet reshuffle he has reportedly been contemplating for some time now.

Chavan's change of address adds a second ministerial vacancy in the cabinet. Shashi Tharoor's resignation as minister of state for external affairs had created the first.

Singh is expected to take up the matter when he returns from the G-20 meeting in Seoul. Though there is no firm word on it, many expect the reshuffle to take place in mid-January 2011, after Congress president Sonia Gandhi has made her own changes in the All India Congress Committee ahead of the party's plenary session in December.

It is clear that Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is still firm on not joining the government.

The prime minister has reportedly been mulling a drastic makeover of his team that includes infusion of fresh blood, dropping of jaded performers, rejigging some portfolios, elevating some ministers and weeding out the non-performers.

He may also want to remove controversial ministers - a difficult task, more so in a coalition.

With Ashok Chavan resigning as Maharashtra CM over the Adarsh housing scam, the pressure will mount on Singh to replace 2G scam-tainted DMK minister A Raja.

But Raja's removal or replacement can only be decided by DMK chief M Karunanidhi. The Congress leadership can only prod him.

"Even among Congress members of the ministry, everything is so delicately balanced. It will be a difficult task to drop senior leaders who are ailing or not performing to expectations," said a Congressman who did not want to be named.

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