The fate of leaders like Arjun Singh who failed to get re-inducted into the new Council of Ministers continues to hang in the balance.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh avoided a direct reply to a question on new assignments for such leaders.
“There can be other ways of using their expertise in public service,’’ he said after the swearing-in ceremony for 59 ministers at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday.
The big question is when, where and how would these leaders be accommodated?
Arjun Singh, Shivraj Patil, HR Bhardwaj and Saifuddin Soz, who were ministers in the previous Cabinet, have been dropped.
Sources indicated that some of them may be offered gubernatorial assignments when vacancies come up shortly in a few Raj Bhavans.
On her part, when she was asked why there was nobody from Uttar Pradesh in the Cabinet, Congress president Sonia Gandhi shot back: “MoS (minister of state) kafi nahi hai (isn’t MoS enough)? There are two MoS with independent charge.”
Sonia pointed out that the Congress had got only 21 out of 80 seats in the state.
UP has got five ministers — two ministers of state with independent charge, Sriprakash Jaiswal and Salman Khursheed, and three MoS, Jitin Prasada, RPN Singh and Pradeep Jain. There is no representation in the Cabinet from the state.
These five MPs have been allotted important portfolios. Jaiswal gets to handle coal and programme implementation and statistics; Khursheed will oversee corporate affairs and minority affairs; Prasada will deal with petroleum and natural gas; RPN Singh will be in the ministry of road transport and highways and Jain in rural development.
UP is critical in the Congress’s overall plan of coming to power on its own by reviving the organization in the Hindi-speaking belt.