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From clear mandate to unclear portfolios

india Updated: May 26, 2009 00:17 IST
Vinod Sharma and Saroj Nagi
Will the second round of UPA cabinet expansion happen today?

It is ten days since the election results became known, but a full government is still not in place. Cabinet expansion is now expected latest by Wednesday, if it does not happen on Tuesday.

All the UPA’s pre-poll allies, barring perhaps the JMM, are likely to be taken on board in the ministerial expansion.

The UPA leadership has received the list of the DMK’s nominees for three cabinet and four ministers of state berths.

Since the Trinamool Congress has one MP more than the DMK’s 18, its representation in the Manmohan Singh ministry could go up by one MoS from the six allotted to it at present.

Three leaders have reportedly been shortlisted for the speaker’s post: Kishore Chandra Deo, Pawan Kumar Bansal and S. Jaipal Reddy, who was sworn in as minister last week.

The deputy speaker’s position is likely to be given to the principal opposition, the BJP. Sumitra Mahajan, its member from Indore, could be a frontrunner for the post.

On Monday, Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi sat for nearly four hours to arrive at their list of nominees for the second round of cabinet formation.

They had another meeting on Monday night.

So far, 19 ministers other than the PM have been sworn in. And only six key ministries have been allotted: finance (Pranab Mukherjee), defence (A.K. Antony), home (P. Chidambaram), external Affairs (S.M. Krishna), agriculture (Sharad Pawar) and railways (Mamata Banerjee).

Sources indicated that the portfolios of the 13 ministers would be announced along with the 40-odd new inductees. The total tally, along with last week’s 19, will be between 60 and 70.

In Chennai, Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi said the PM asked all his nominees to be present in Delhi on Tuesday for the swearing in. His son M.K. Azhagiri (fertilisers and chemicals), his grandnephew Dayanidhi Maran (textiles) and A. Raja (IT and telecom) are set to become cabinet ministers. The party will have four ministers of state.