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NEW DELHI: Faced with accusations of heading a contaminated Cabinet, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has finally decided to rejig his team of minister on Tuesday at 5 pm. A handful of ministers are likely to be dropped, while fresh faces will be induct into the Council of Ministers.

The decision was taken after at least six meeting in the past fortnight between the PM and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. According to sources, key portfolios of defense, home, finance and external affairs will not see a change, despite rumors that Home Minister P Chidambaram wanted to move to external affairs. S M Krishna, despite his more than a few faux pas at international fora, will continue to head the Foreign Ministry, courtesy his nearness to 10 Janpath. However, it is unlikely that another favorite of Sonia, Shivraj Patil, will be given a place in the Cabinet.

Termed a minor reshuffle, one of the vacancies that is to be filled is that created by the resignation of Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran. Corporate Affairs Minister Murli Deora had also offered to resign, though it has not been accepted yet. In November, former Telecom Minister A Raja had also quit following his participation in the 2G scam. He is in Tihar Jail at present along with DMK MP Kanimozhi, who in all probability would have found a berth in the Cabinet, but for the scam that put her behind bars.

The DMK has affirmed that it will take a decision on its inclusion in the Cabinet after its General Council meeting in Chennai on July 23-24 this month. Another important ally of the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, is likely to see its MoS for Health Dinesh Trivedi elevated as Railway Minister, while Sudip Bandopadhyay will be the fresh face in the Council of Ministers.

Railways MoS Mukul Roy is sulking after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directed him to go to Assam, following the rail mishap. It is learnt that the Prime Minister may induct Murli Deora’s son Milind Deora too into the Council of Ministers. The other new faces are likely to be former cine star Raj Babbar, who gave the Congress another feather in its cap in Uttar Pradesh by winning the prestigious Ferozabad seat in the by-elections in 2009, after defeating Dimple Yadav, daughter-in-law of Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Congress spokespersons Manish Tewari and Janardhan Dwivedi are others that could be considered for induction into the Cabinet. With Uttar Pradesh becoming the main battleground for Rahul Gandhi, where his performance is crucial before he prepares to don the mantle of Prime Minister, the UPA will further enhance the position of Congress MPs from UP in the Union Council of Ministers.

Besides Babbar, Minister of State with independent charge for Steel Beni Prasad Verma may be elevated to Cabinet-rank. Others who could be elevated to Cabinet rank include MoS-External Affairs E Ahamed from the Indian Muslim League, MoS-Commerce & Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia and MoS-Chemicals & Fertilisers Srikant Jena.

Despite having a penchant for putting their feet in their mouths, Ministers Jairam Ramesh and Ghulam Nabi Azad are unlikely to be dropped from the Union Cabinet, although Kapil Sibal, the Man Friday of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, may be eased out of one of his ministries. At present, he is treatment the telecom and HRD portfolios. Non-performers like Virbhadra Singh may find themselves out of the Cabinet, while Ministers treatment two or more portfolios, such as Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal, who is also in charge of Science and Technology, may be given only one. MoS PMO V Narayanasamy, who is also in charge of parliamentary affairs and personnel, may also be relieved of charge of any one ministry.

Similarly, Vayalar Ravi, Minister of abroad Indian Affairs, is at present also holding charge of civil aviation. He too will likely have to give up one portfolio. MoS for Tribal Affairs Kantilal Bhuria who was recently made Madhya Pradesh Congress president may be dropped from the Cabinet.

Tags: Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran, All eyes on Union Cabinet rejig, Union Cabinet, Home Minister, P Chidambaram, DMK, Telecom Minister, General Council meeting, Ministers Jairam Ramesh, Congress, Manish Tewari, Health Dinesh Trivedi, Railway Minister, Janardhan Dwivedi, Union Cabinet, UP, Steel Beni Prasad, Uttar Pradesh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Science and Technology,

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