Cabinet finalisation process still underway

Updated on May 22, 2004 02:14 PM IST

Rashtrapati Bhawan has still not been told about the number of ministers to be sworn-in, but sources said it could be 60.

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PTI | ByPress Trust of India, New Delhi

After a marathon six-hour meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, which ended at 2.00 am, Prime Minister-designate Manmohan Singh is finalising his Council of Ministers to be sworn-in at 5.30 pm on Saturday.

Rashtrapati Bhawan has still not been told about the number of ministers to be sworn-in, but sources said that it could be 60, most of them from Congress and rest from the allies such as RJD, DMK, NCP, TRS, JMM and LJP.

Hours before the swearing-in, indications were that Pranab Mukherjee may get Home portfolio, Natwar Singh External Affairs, Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi Parliamentary Affairs with the likelihood of Manmohan Singh keeping the Finance portfolio to himself for the time being, at least till he presents the United Progressive Alliance Government's first Budget.

There was no clarity about the portfolio that may be offered to RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav although reports persisted that he may get Railways and even Defence.

It also is indicated that RJD with 21 MPs could get a total of three cabinet berths and as many Minister of State posts.

Yadav declined to comment on allocation of portfolios and special package for Bihar saying, "you please wait for allocation of portfolios".

DMK, with 15 MPS, is likely to get three cabinet berths including IT and Communications for Dayanidhi Maran, Surface Transport for TR Balu and Enviornment and Forest for A Raja, party sources said.

Further, the party headed by M Karunanidhi, which fought elections in Tamil Nadu along with Congress to wipe out BJP and AIADMK, is expected to get four posts of Ministers of State.

Palani Manickam is expected to get Minister of State for Revenue, Subbulakshmi Jagadeeshan MoS for Social Justice and Women Empowerment, S Raghupathi MoS Home and M Venkatapathy MoS Law and Justice.

Another southern ally, PMK, which got six MPs, is likely to get two representations in the Council of Ministers including a Cabinet berth for Anbumani, son of party chief S Ramdoss, with sources indicating that it could be Health portoflio.

RJD nominees could also get the portfolios of Rural Development.

In case, Yadav does not get Railways, one of his party MPs could become MoS in the same Ministry, party sources said.

It is also speculated that NCP chief Sharad Pawar may get Agriculture along with Food, which could be merged with the earlier portfolio.

Meanwhile, the sources said JMM was likely to get the Steel and Mines portfolio, though the party is looking for one more representation in the ministry.

JMM supremo Sibu Soren, declining to comment on the portfolio, said that his party was "happy with the offer" from Congress as it was in the interest of Jharkhand.

The Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) MP A Narendra is understood to have been invited to join the Government, but the party is miffed over absence of any specific reference to creation of Telegana state in the Common Minimum Programme.

The leaders of TRS, which has five MPs in the Lok Sabha, are meeting to decide whether to participate in the Congress-led coalition.

Meanwhile, party Chief K Chandrashekar Rao met NCP President Sharad Pawar on Saturday.

Delhi, where Congress won six out of seven seats, is likely to be represented in the Council of Ministers by Kapil Sibal who might be considered for Law.

Other names for the berths include Ajay Maken and Jagdish Tytler, who defeated Union Ministers Jagmohan and Vijay Goel, respectively.

Sunil Dutt, who won for the fifth time from Mumbai constituency, is also likely to find a place in the Cabinet.

Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot representing Congress' young brigade are also among the probables for the ministerial berths.

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