New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's much-awaited Cabinet reshuffle is turning out to be larger than anticipated. The Cabinet is set to get a younger look with many new faces to be sworn in. While former minister of state Shashi Tharoor is expected to make a comeback, the reshuffle is also likely to make way for younger ministers, such as Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot, in the Cabinet.
In the run-up to the massive Cabinet revamp, the UPA geared up with the resignations of senior ministers SM Krishna, Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik and Subodh Kant Sahai. All the leaders are now slated to work for organisational work of the Congress party eyeing the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for 2014.
With regard to the Sunday Cabinet reshuffle, former Minister of State for External Affairs is set to make a comeback as the Minister of State for Tourism with independent charge while Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora and Ajay Maken are likely to be promoted to Cabinet rank. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari is also slated to join ministry as a Minister of State.
As far as the big potfolios of the Manmohan Singh Cabinet are concerned, Union Commerce and Industries Minister Anand Sharma is the frontrunner to take over the External Affairs Ministry, which has been vacated by SM Krishna. However, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid is also in the race for the External Affairs.
Anand Sharma is likely to be replaced as the Union Commerce and Industries Minister by Daggubati Purandeswari, a Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh.
Expressing happiness over the development, Purandeswari thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress leadership. She said, "I would like to thank Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for giving me this opportunity. It's an honor as well as a huge task. I hope I will be able to give my best."
Apart from these, sources have said that Union Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath is likely to be moved to the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, and CP Joshi, who took over as the Union Minister for Railways after the exit of Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy, will retain the same.
Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pawan Bansal is expected to get surface transport and Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister S Jaipal Reddy may be given the charge of the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry.
Ahead of the Cabinet reshuffle, as many as seven ministers – four senior ministers and three junior ministers – submitted their resignations, which were accepted by President Pranab Mukherjee.
The senior ministers whose resignations were accepted are – SM Krishna, Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik and Subodh Kant Sahai. While Krishna had resigned as the Minister of External Affairs, Soni had quit as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
Mukul Wasnik and Subodh Kant Sahai had resigned as the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment and Minister of Tourism respectively. The leaders are now expected to work for the Congress party as part of the preparations for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The junior ministers whose resignations were accepted by the President are Mahadeo Singh Khandela, Vincent Pala and Agatha Sangma. While Khandela had resigned as the Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, Pala had quit as the Minister of State for Water Resources and Minority Affairs.
Agatha Sangma, whose resignation was expected ever since her father contested the Presidential election against UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee, quit as the Minister of State for Rural Development.
This Cabinet reshuffle appears to be a major exercise for the Congress party, which is simultaneously going for some major organisational changes ahead of the 2014 General Elections. While the senior ministers who resigned ahead of the Cabinet revamp are slated to be given major assignments concerning the Congress, party general secretary Rahul Gandhi is expected to be given a major position, possibly that of the working president, suggesting that the party is in a makeover mode.
After resigning from the post of Union Tourism Minister, Subodh Kant Sahai said that he was looking forward to be rolled in party affairs while Ambika Soni, who quit as the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, said she had decided to work for the party.
"I have decided to work for the party. What work I do will depend on the Congress president. One can't differentiate between me wanting to resign or party asking me to resign. You can see this as preparation for 2014 polls. Sonia has blown the poll bugle. I was asked if I would like to work in party and that entailed resigning from Cabinet," said Soni.
SM Krishna, who resigned on Friday as the Minister for External Affairs, is also expected to be given some important assignment by the Congress leadership in Karnataka. Talking about the reshuffle, he said it was the time for young blood to take over. He said, "The flavour of the season is that youngsters must take over the range of responsibility. I felt that it was time up for me to make way for younger blood."