Rahul to be UPA’s face-saver? - The New Indian Express

Rahul to be UPA’s face-saver?

Published: 26th October 2012 08:47 AM

Last Updated: 26th October 2012 08:47 AM

Congress circles in the national capital are abuzz with speculation that Rahul Gandhi may be inducted to the Union Cabinet, which is expected to be reshuffled on Sunday to give the scam-hit Manmohan Singh government a younger and ‘reformed’ look.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has not quite hidden the fact that he would like Rahul to join his Cabinet. The PM has admitted to the media that he invited the Amethi MP to join the government more than once, which is usually not the case with other aspirants who have to lobby hard to get a Cabinet berth.

The PM had again asked Rahul to join the Cabinet when he came to meet him last week and the latter did not entirely decline the offer. Instead, sources claim, he expressed a desire to work in a field that “touches people’s lives and makes a difference in living standards’’ of the aam admi. This could, however, turn out to be an image-building exercise for the Congress scion. 

Umbrella Social Welfare Ministry likely for Rahul

There’s a possibility that a few of the social sector ministries - now headed by junior ministers with independent charge - may be clubbed together to form an umbrella social welfare ministry for Rahul to head, sources added. He may also replace Jairam Ramesh as Rural Development Minister or Kapil Sibal as HRD Minister. There is, however, no official word on any of this yet. Rahul’s one-time mentor Digvijay Singh has maintained that the Amethi MP is required by the party to work across the states and not be spared for government work.

However, Rahul has also been ridiculed by prominent leaders from the opposition and Chief Ministers - like Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar - for his lack of experience in the area of governance. This, some say, is what is prompting the Congress top-brass to push him into a ministerial role.

Even if Rahul ends up resisting the pressure from within yet again, some of his groupies are likely to get a leg-up in the reshuffle. Among the younger lot, Jyotiradyita Scindia may get a promotion. So can Sachin Pilot and Rajiv Shukla. All of them have put in some work as junior ministers. A few of his team members from the Youth Congress may also find place as junior ministers.

Another MoS, Harish Rawat, may also be elevated. Though Rawat cannot be counted as a Young Turk, his promotion may come by way of compensation. He was a strong contender for Uttarakhand CM’s post, which was denied to him. The reshuffle will be confined mostly to Congress party. From the UPA allies’ side, NCP’s Tariq Anwar may get a slot in place of Agatha Sangma. The DMK, it seems, is unwilling to claim another berth.

Three trips undertaken by MoS PMO V Narayanasamy to Chennai to convince M.Karunanidhi, does not seem to have borne fruit.

Among the high-profile senior ministers, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Vyalar Ravi and Anand Sharma are likely to shed their additional charges. There’s a possibility that Khurshid -who’s been in the eye of the storm recently, may not only lose the Minority Affairs Ministry, but also be shifted out of Law to External Affairs.

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