Having completed the marathon exercise of government formation, Congress president Sonia Gandhi (62) on Friday met old faithfuls HR Bhardwaj (72) and Shivraj Patil (73), who have been left out of the union cabinet this time.
The Congress president is understood to have met former law minister Bhardwaj, a staunch Gandhi family loyalist, for the first time since he was dropped from the Manmohan Singh cabinet earlier this week.
Patil, too, was not considered for inclusion in the cabinet this time. He had resigned after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks last year.
Sonia is learnt to have discussed the issue of political rehabilitation of both veteran leaders. However, both Patil and Bhardwaj chose to remain silent on the outcome of their separate meetings with the party president.
Earlier on Thursday, another party veteran, Saifuddin Soz (71), who was also been left out, had met senior leader and political secretary to the Congress president Ahmed Patel
The surprise exclusion of Bhardwaj had given rise to immense speculation that he had fallen out of favour with the Gandhi family.
Neither Bhardwaj nor the Congress have so far made public the reason for his non-inclusion in the cabinet. In his only reaction on being left out, the lawyer-turned-politician had said: “It is not a right of any individual to remain a minister forever.”