Six Union ministers, including three of Cabinet rank, on Saturday resigned on the eve of a Cabinet reshuffle. After the resignation of S M Krishna, former external affairs minister, yesterday, on Saturday’s development has paved the way for new faces to be inducted as ministers. I&B Minister Ambika Soni, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik and Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai submitted their resignations. Ministers of state Mahadev Khandela, Vincent Pala and Agatha Sangma also resigned. In all, the President has accepted the resignations of seven Union ministers.
Soni, Sahai and Wasnik are likely to be drafted into party and organisation work. Soni and Wasnik said they were “honoured” to work for the organisation. The reshuffle is likely to bear Congress scion Rahul Gandhi’s stamp, with several young guns who are ministers of state in line for an elevation.
The reshuffle would clear the way for an AICC (All India Congress Committee) revamp, with some former ministers slated to get back to party work. Gandhi is slated to don a larger role in the AICC set-up, possibly that of working president.
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Among the probable names doing the rounds for the external affairs portfolio are Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Rajya Sabha MP Karan Singh. While reports earlier on Saturday indicated Karan Singh would fit the bill, by late evening sources said Anand Sharma was to be the new face of the ministry of external affairs. Former minister S M Krishna said earlier on Saturday he was making way for “younger blood”. Ministers of state likely to be elevated to Cabinet rank include Ajay Maken, D Purandeshwari, Harish Rawat and K H Muniappa. Maken is a likely candidate for the I&B portfolio.
Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy’s name is doing the rounds for the HRD portfolio, with Kapil Sibal likely to be divested of the portfolio but retain telecom. Pawan Kumar Bansal is likely to lose his parliamentary affairs portfolio. Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath could get additional charge of the ministry, say sources.
Young ministers of state considered close to Rahul Gandhi may take “additional charge” of other ministries. Some such names include Jitin Prasad and R P N Singh. Sachin Pilot, Jitendra Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia might get independent charge. Party spokesperson Manish Tewari has his eyes set on a ministerial berth.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad may take over as petroleum minister. Prominent among likely new faces in the council of ministers are actor-turned politician Andhra Pradesh MP Chiranjeevi, Sarve Satyanarayan, Telangana MP Porika Balaram Naik and Kurnool Congress MP Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy.
At least three West Bengal MPs could find berths in the council of ministers. DMK supremo Karunanidhi has said the party would not seek any berth. The NCP on Saturday announced senior leader from Bihar, Tariq Anwar, would be inducted. Anwar is likely to be inducted as minister of state for agriculture, working under Sharad Pawar, the NCP chief.