After gearing up the party organisation, the Congress leadership will rejig the Union council of ministers on Monday in what is seen as a combined move for fighting the next Lok Sabha battle.
Top Congress sources hinted that there might be up to four new faces in the cabinet rank and three or four ministers of state (MoS) in this latest round of reshuffle.
Meanwhile, road minister CP Joshi, who was holding additional charge of railways, resigned on Monday to return to full-fledged party work. This paves the way for a new leadership in crucial infrastructure portfolios at a time when the Manmohan Singh government is trying to boost the sector to revive the economy.
Former Karnataka chief minister Mallikarjun Kharge is seen as an aspirant for the railway minister’s post. After he lost to Siddaramaiah last month in the race for Karnataka chief minister’s chair, MLAs loyal to Kharge demanded that he be given a plum portfolio in the centre. Another heavyweight from Karnataka, Oscar Fernandez, who has been divested of his organisation responsibility is expected to be inducted in the cabinet.
Among the MoS, one is almost certain to join the finance ministry under P Chidambaram. Top sources told HT that Chidambaram had been insisting on getting one more junior minister to share the burden of the ministry.
Two more Congress secretaries — Vilas Muttemwar and Meenakshi Natarajan — who were not accommodated in the new core team of the Congress organisation, may be accommodated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his new pack of ministers. Congress leader Girija Vyas is also likely to be inducted as minister.
After the resignation of Joshi and Maken, the union council of ministers currently has 12 vacancies including berths left by the five DMK ministers.
A top Congress functionary told HT, “The reshuffle will not only be aimed at 2014 election but also address the political requirements of the upcoming assembly elections.” Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will go for elections before December.