Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to reshuffle his cabinet Tuesday, informed sources said.
Though there is no official announcement so far, the reshuffle is likely to take place at 5 pm., the sources said. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has already told the President's Office to make the preparations, they added.
The Prime Minister is expected to go for a mix of youth and experience when he undertakes the reshuffle of his council of ministers.
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.
Indications are that the 'Big Four' ministers - Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna - would not be affected in the reshuffle.
However, there will be promotions and inductions among the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) constituents. Congress is also expected to promote or induct ministers from poll-bound states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Chhattisgarh, sources said.
The reshuffle comes in the wake of a series of corruption scams, which forced two ministers - A. Raja and Dayanidhi Maran - to quit office and tarnished the image of the UPA-II government
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, Murli Deora 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.
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.
Jayanthi Natarajan could replace Jairam Ramesh in environment ministry. 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.
Milind Deora is likely to be inducted as junior minister.
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. (With inputs from HTC, IANS)