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Manmohan Singh to rejig team tomorrow

Sunday, 16 June 2013 - 12:21pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Ajay Maken quits to play major role in Delhi polls.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to reshuffle his council of ministers on Monday to fill up vacancy and induct new faces. It will be the last reshuffle before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The reshuffle coincides with a reshuffle in the Congress party as well, where vice-president Rahul Gandhi will give a new shape to his team.

Speculations were rife in the capital, that four ministers have quit expressing desire to work for the party. However, Congress sources confirmed only the resignation of housing and poverty alleviation minister Ajay Maken. He is believed to have submitted his resignation to the prime minister, on the directions of Rahul Gandhi, who wants him to play major role in Delhi assembly elections.

There is also possibility of him being projected as next chief minister of Delhi or lead the party in the polls, scheduled in November. Congress sources say they have been alerted about the reshuffle taking place on Monday and If any delay for any reason, it  will certainly take place by Tuesday.

Sources in the PMO also suggest that prime minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi have finalised a tentative list early this week. Ajay Maken, who was promoted as a cabinet minister only last October to head the housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry. 

Maken is also scheduled to be either drafted as AICC general secretary or replace Delhi PCC chief Jaiprakash Agarwal.

Kapil Sibal, another Delhi MP who took over as the law minister last month is expected to return to both law and telecom portfolios,  while C P Joshi, a Rajasthan MP who hold portfolios of  road transport and Railways, is expected to retain only Railways.

He has reportedly secured the assurance from the PM that he would not be shunted out from the Railways.

Commerce minister Anand Sharma may lose the additional textile portfolio and Orissa leader Srikant Jena may get promotion to the Cabinet rank. Sources said the vacancies created by the exit of DMK ministers will also be filled.

Sources also said the reshuffle aimed at to  fill up the vacancies in the council of ministers will be Congress-centric. The prime minister is understood to have informed the Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar about the reshuffle.

Further  the  poll-bound states like Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan are set to be given preference.

Other states to gain include Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, which are under represented in the cabinet.

Sources in AICC said the chairman of media cell Janardan Dwivedi (67) may be relieved from the post, he is holding for the past six years.

Another general secretary Digvijay Singh (65) may head the crucial media department. 
Many general secretaries and state in-charges are out to lose their jobs, including Gulchain Singh Charak and Dhaniram Shandil. 

Ambika Soni, who was dropped as the information and broadcasting minister in the last Cabinet reshuffle in October, is also tipped to be a general secretary with important assignments while Rahul Gandhi has asked at least two ministers from his young brigade to shift for the organisational duties to help him in strategising the 2014 polls. Younger leaders, Jitendra Singh, Meenakshi Natrajan, Ashok Tanwar are also  likely to get prominent positions in the AICC.

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