C P Joshi gets railways, Sibal to handle law

Additional charges may go after cabinet reshuffle

C P Joshi  gets railways, Sibal to handle law

A day after the unceremonious exit of its two ministers, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) took steps to fill their portfolios by giving Minister for Road and Transport C P Joshi additional charge of railways while handing over the Law Ministry to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal amid speculation over a Cabinet reshuffle next week.

Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar, who held railways and law portfolios respectively, resigned on Friday due to the different controversies that surrounded them. Bansal’s continuance in ministry became untenable after his nephew was arrested with Rs 90 lakh that he allegedly took as a bribe for promoting a Railway Board member. Ashwani Kumar’s alleged “vetting” of the CBI report on coalgate scam not only caused huge embarrassment to the government, but also drew sharp criticism from the Supreme Court.

Official and party sources could not say if Joshi and Sibal would be retained as the new ministers of railways and law, respectively, after the reshuffle. While it is the first time that Sibal, an eminent lawyer himself, will be holding the fort of Law Ministry, for Joshi, who had earlier held additional charge of railways for some time, it will be another extention.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan communiqué said the President of India, as advised by the prime minister, had accepted the resignation of Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar from the Council of Ministers with immediate effect. The President  as advised by the prime minister, “has directed that the additional charge of the Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Law and Justice shall be given to C P Joshi and Kapil Sibal respectively.

A reshuffle of the Cabinet has become necessary as some of the ministers have been holding additional charge of several ministries for a long time, ever since the exit of Trinamool Congress in last October and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagom recently, which resulted in the resignation of two cabinet and 10 ministers of state. A meeting of the Congress core committee headed by party chief Sonia Gandhi, scheduled for Saturday evening to discuss the need for the reshuffle, was cancelled at the last minute.

While Commerce Minister Anand Sharma has been holding charge of the Textiles Ministry for quite some time, Minister of State Srikant Jena has been told to answer questions on chemicals and fertilisers in Parliament.

Meanwhile, the resignation of Bansal and Kumar—which almost coincided with the election of Siddaramaiah as the Congress chief minister of Karnataka gave an occasion of self praising for the Congress.

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