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PM may reshuffle Union Cabinet this week

October 20, 2010 00:46 IST

Speculation is rife that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may undertake a reshuffle of his Council of Ministers later this week before he leaves on a three-nation visit this Sunday.

There is no official word so far but talk in Congress circles on Tuesday is that the exercise may be confined to party representatives in the government.

Singh would be out of the country for a week and would be back in time for the All India Congress Committee meeting scheduled in New Delhi on November 2.

Diwali falls on November 5 followed by United States President Barack Obama's visit on November 7 and 8 and the Parliament session from November 8, leaving little time for the prime minister to carry out the exercise after his return from foreign tour.

The prime minister himself had talked about the possibility of a reshuffle while talking to editors last month. There are a few vacancies in the ministry including one following the resignation of Shashi Tharoor as Minister of State for External Affairs in the wake of the Indian Premier League controversy.

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who is holding charge of several departments and ministries, had said after becoming the International Cricket Council chief that he would like the prime minister to lighten his burden.

There are at least half-a-dozen Union ministers who are holding charge in the AICC also. Prithviraj Chavan, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mukul Wasnik, V Narayan Swami are all party general secretaries while M Veerappa Moily is in-charge of party affairs in Andhra Pradesh.

A reconstitution of the AICC secretariat is also on the cards following Sonia Gandhi's re-election as the Congress president for the fourth term. Talk in party circles is that Gandhi, in consultation with the prime minister, could utilise the opportunity to make changes in the party and the government.

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