Cabinet rejig may coincide with governors' reshuffle

Karnataka Governor Bhardwaj likely to be relocated

Some like Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj and Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil, hoping to join “the main stream” at the Centre “may, perhaps, be relocated,” sources said.

With a lot of brain storming  under way in the ruling Congress “to revitalise” the UPA-2, the Cabinet reshuffle may not give enough space to “the ripened Congressmen parked in Raj Bhavan,” they said.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has given subtle hint of the road ahead when he recently called for the induction of “young leadership” in the government. Chidambaram even suggested that those aged above 60, including himself, should “step back.”

President Pratibha Patil would be leaving for Hyderabad on July 2 and come back to Delhi on July 8. This has prompted many anticipate that the reshuffle exercise may be before July 2 or after the return  of the president.

“There is no clear road map yet for the Cabinet reshuffle though discussions have focused on bringing more fresh faces while releasing senior leaders for the party work,” a senior Congress leader said.

Patil who had resigned as Home Minister on November 30, 2008 following widespread criticism after Mumbai terror attacks and was appointed Punjab governor on January 22, 2010, is apparently wanting to make a come back by first getting elected to Rajya Sabha in the seat vacated by Prithviraj Chavan, the incumbent Chief Minister of Mahrashtra.

Uttarakhand Governor Margaret Alva may be moved deep South once Surjit Singh Barnala concludes his term this month.

Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj, whose tenure has already witnessed a regular clash with Chief Minister B S Yeddurappa, may find a “cooler” Raj Bhawan elsewhere. Similarly, Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar, who has not been in the best of equation with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, may be moved out.

It is not clear whether the  proposed reshuffle is to take into account the bugging controversy which reflected distrust between Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram.

Chidambaram’s public admission that he until now did not know about Intelligence Bureau conducting an electronic sweep in the Finance Ministry in September, 2010, after Mukherjee complaining  to the prime minister about electronic bugging in his office, did raise many eyebrows in the Congress.

Chidambaram has, however,  threw enough hints that he was not  too keen on continuing his current assignment. He maintained that the office of the home minister has proved to be much more stressful than that of the finance ministry which he had held in the past.

The changes in the portfolios of heavyweight ministers is not completely ruled out with veterans roped in for strengthening the party in the states, sources said.

Porfolios of Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge may also undergo “some churning.”

In the news for the wrong reasons,  Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran, allegedly involved in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, may be dropped and so may be the case with Minister for Programme Implementation and Statistics M S Gill. HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, holding additional charge of telecom, may lose one of the portfolios.

“The size of the changes in the Cabinet will be worked out before next week,” sources said.

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