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Race for cabinet berths begins in Congress

New Congress members of Parliament are now eyeing cabinet berths at the Centre. The established lot that held important ministries in the outgoing government will try hard to retain their positions.

india Updated: May 18, 2009 01:26 IST
Dharmendra Jore

New Congress members of Parliament are now eyeing cabinet berths at the Centre. The established lot that held important ministries in the outgoing government will try hard to retain their positions.

From city that saw a Congress clean sweep, several young members of Parliament like Mumbai South’s Milind Deora (32) and North-Central’s Priya Dutt (43) are in the reckoning.

They may be made junior ministers.

If Milind Deora makes the grade, father Petroleum Minister Murli Deora will have to sacrifice his claim.

“Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi (38) is hell-bent on a significant number of young ministers,” said a senior state Congress minister who did not want to be named for protocol reasons.
Congress alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), with nine seats, including Mumbai North East, is likely to get a senior and two junior berths.

Last time too the NCP had three berths.

Pawar is most likely to retain the Agriculture and Civil Supply Ministry.
Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel will be in the cabinet if Pawar gives the nod.

The third nominee, for the berth vacated by Minister of State for Rural Development Suryakant Patil by virtue of his loss from Hingoli, will also be Pawar’s choice.

Senior member of Parliament Gurudas Kamat (55) has been expecting a cabinet berth for long and may demand a plum post.

Congress general secretary Mukul Wasnik (49), a young Dalit face, is expected to get senior minister status. The Ramtek (Nagpur) member of Parliament was a minister of state some 13 years ago.

Minister of State for Renewable Energy and seven-time member of Parliament Vilas Muttemwar (60), who represents Nagpur, may not find himself in if Wasnik wins the honour because both are from the same district.

Senior member of Parliament Datta Meghe (73), who joined the Congress from the NCP and wrested Wardha from the Bharatiya Janata Party, is likely to be rewarded with a junior ministership.
Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, a prominent Dalit face from Solapur who is close to the Gandhi family, is a cabinet certainty.

Another hot contender from western Maharashtra is Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chavan (60).

Pune’s many-time member of Parliament and former minister of state for Railways Suresh Kalmadi (60) may want an elevation.

From Marathwada, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan is likely to lobby for brother-in-law Bhaskar Patil Khatgaonkar.

State Congress executive president Jayant Awale, who won from Latur, may find former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh pushing his case.

Nandurbar’s nine-time member of Parliament and former minister of state for home Manikrao Gavit, dropped in a reshuffle two years ago, will be the natural choice as north Maharashtra’s representative.