New Delhi(PTI): The stage is set now for a major revamp of the Union Council of Ministers tomorrow with the likely induction of at least 10 new faces and promotion of some Ministers of State, besides a rejig in the Cabinet in which Anand Sharma may get External Affairs portfolio.
Ahead of the reshuffle, three Cabinet Ministers Ambika Soni (I&B), Mukul Wasnik (Social Justice) and Subodh Kant Sahai (Tourism) and Minister of State Mahadev Khandela (Tribal Affairs) resigned today, saying they would work for the party. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had quit yesterday.
The ceremony for swearing-in of new ministers is scheduled at 11.30 hours at the Rashtrapati Bhavan tomorrow when a number of new faces are likely to be inducted.
Rahul Gandhi, who was earlier speculated to be joining the government, is unlikely to do so. He may be in for a larger role in the party and could be made Working President.
59-year-old Sharma, who is tipped to move from Commerce to take the place of Krishna, has done a stint in the MEA as MoS in UPA one. As Congress leader he had campaigned against apartheid in South Africa.
His place in Commerce is all set to go to 53-year-old Purandeswari, daughter of the late N T Rama Rao, after her eight-year tenure in as MoS in HRD Ministry.
Prominent among the newcomers expected to be inducted are actor-turned politician Chiranjeevi (Andhra Pradesh), A H Khan Chowdhry, brother of late A B A Ghani Khan Chowdhry, Pradeep Bhattacharya and Deepa Dasmunsi (West Bengal), Tariq Anwar (Maharashtra), Pradeep Balmuchu (Jharkhand) and Pradeep Majhi (Odisha).
Besides Purandeswari and Ajay Maken, who could also be promoted as a Cabinet minister, Ministers of State who could be upgraded are Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Milind Deora. Maken may get Information and Broadcasting portfolio.
In the rejig of portfolios, Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath is likely to be given additional charge of Parliamentary Affairs, now held by Pawan Kumar Bansal, who is expected to retain Water Resources.
Anwar, NCP MP, is expected to be made Minister of State for Agriculture to work under his party chief Sharad Pawar.
Along with the revamp in the Council of Ministers, there is a possibility of long-awaited restructuring in the AICC, to make it ready organisationally for the next Lok Sabha elections slated in 2014.
Submitting their resignations, Soni, Wasnik and Sahai said they will work for the party. Soni was Congress General Secretary for several years and was Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi while Wasnik was handling the dual responsibility of Congress General Secretary as well as Union Minister.
Before meeting the prime minister, Sahai said yesterday that Congress President Sonia Gandhi called him to draft him for party work.
“It is an honour to work for the party. I am offering my resignation to Prime Minister. Party President (Sonia Gandhi) and others want me to work for the party so I will be working to strengthen the party as the party is supreme.We are in the government because of the party. Party is supreme and will always be supreme,” he said.
Sahai’s name had cropped up in a controversy following media expose that he had recommended for allocation of coal block a company in Jharkhand in which his brother was a Director.
Soni said, “I have taken Prime Minister’s permission to resign. It is not appropriate if I do it on my own so I have taken his permission and explained it to him”.
Asked if she was willing to work for the party, she said, “I think it is an honour”.
Wasnik said, “I have been working for the organisation for the last several years and I would like to work for the organisation”.
The other changes could include ministers holding dual portfolios shedding one of their responsibilities.