Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appeared all set on Monday night to reshuffle his Council of Ministers. Indications were that Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee might be shifted to the Ministry of External Affairs to fill up the vacancy caused by K Natwar Singh’s resignation in the wake of the Volcker panel's report on the oil for food scam.
Government sources told the Hindustan Times that the PM had sought and got time from President APJ Abdul Kalam for the swearing in ceremony at 7.30 PM on Tuesday. But it may be pushed to some other date if Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated on Tuesday.
The sources said the President would not mind swearing in the new ministers on the occasion of Eid. "It is the Government that has to take a decision whether or not to go ahead with the programme on Tuesday," it was said. The practice normally is to ensure that swearing-in ceremonies do not clash with festivals.
In addition to the Cabinet slot in the Foreign Office, which has two Ministers of State, there are three clear vacancies in Singh's Council of Ministers.
Two of them have been caused by the resignation of Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader K Chandrashekar Rao, who held the Labour and Employment portfolio in the Cabinet rank and his party colleague A Narendra, Minister of State for Rural Development. Likewise, the RJD's Jay Prakash Narayan Yadav had also quit as MoS, Ministry of Water Resources.
A replacement will also have to be named for Pranab Mukherjee in defence.