The onset of Uttrayan, an auspicious period according to Hindu astrology, on Wednesday may well set the stage for the changes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been planning in his Council of Ministers.
This Lok Sabha’s last session is tentatively scheduled to open on February 16. There are “good chances” of the reshuffle happening before that, sources in the Congress-led UPA told Hindustan Times.
Besides Finance, the PM holds concurrent charge of Information and Broadcasting, Coal and Environment. He had considered giving up these portfolios last month to tighten up governance in the run-up to general elections.
The process reportedly was put on hold for two reasons: lack of consensus on P Chidambaram’s successor in the Finance Ministry and the beginning on December 14 of the month of Paush considered “inauspicious”.
According to astrologer Ajay Bhambi, the good period began on Makar Sankranti on Wednesday: “Sun’s movement into the House of Capricorn ruled by Saturn removes the latter’s dark, dull, gloomy influence.”
The time now being auspicious, the proposal for Cabinet changes has since been revisited in internal UPA consultations, the sources said. But they couldn’t say whether a decision has been reached on the Finance Minister.
Singh’s original short-list for the FM’s slot had included former Karnataka Chief Minister S.M. Krishna, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and former RBI Governor C. Rangarajan.
JMM’s Shibu Soren may also pitch for a slot, having lost the byelection in Jharkhand, which cost him his chief ministership.