UPA Cabinet reshuffle: Fresh faces likely; DMK not to fill vacancies

The second rung in the Congress could get prominence in the proposed reshuffle of the Union Cabinet, expected any time in the next week.

If one goes by the speculation in the corridors of power, about a dozen new faces would find berths in the cabinet.

However, when Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh expands his Cabinet in the next couple of days, ally DMK will not be celebrating the much-awaited event.

Party president M. Karunanidhi had confirmed to the Congress emissary, Mr Pranab Mukherjee when he came calling on Saturday that the DMK was not interested in the offer of two Cabinet posts to fill up the vacancies caused by the exit of spectrum-struck A. Raja and Dayanidhi Maran.

The DMK would decide on filling its vacancies in the Union Cabinet at its executive meeting at Coimbatore during July 23-24, the party chief told Mr Mukherjee.

Sources said the party patriarch was upset that his daughter Kanimozhi continued to languish in Tihar prison and besides, it appears that the Congress would not give him a free hand to choose his nominees for the vacancies and the portfolios.

At the moment, there is only his elder son M. K. Alagiri representing the DMK at the Cabinet level, besides four ministers of state.

There is also speculation that incumbent minister of state for finance in charge of revenue, S. S. Palanimanickam may be upgraded to Cabinet rank in the wake of resignations by his DMK colleagues A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran from the Cabinet.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi have almost completed the reshuffle exercise but the focus (political and the ability to deliver) could be reflected only in the allocation of portfolios.

Dr Singh has beenwanting to have a team of his choice which could help in the policy formation and its execution. This time, even the Congress' allies and supporting parties are not in a bargaining mood because of various scams and the scandals.

Uttar Pradesh could get more prominemce if the focus is on political exercise. This is because the outcome of the Assembly polls in the state could set the tone of the Lok Sabha elections.

AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi has special interest in t he state. But the UP has already have six ministers.

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