Moves for a reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers gathered momentum on Tuesday with Congress President Sonia Gandhi meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh amid indications that the exercise could take place on Wednesday.
Gandhi, who was accompanied by her Political Secretary Ahmed Patel, met Singh over two hours and is understood to have given final touches to the exercise which could see some inductions, elevations and drafting some ministers for party work.
Senior leader Pranab Mukherjee also met Gandhi.
Sources said that the swearing in ceremony could take place either Wednesday or on Friday.
Significantly, Tribal Affairs Minister Kantilal Bhuria and Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh met Gandhi triggering speculation that they could be asked to work for the party.
MPs Janardhan Dwivedi and Navin Jindal also met her.
Broadly indications were available that the ‘big four’ incumbents in Finance, Defence, Home and External Affairs portfolios would not be affected in the reshuffle.
There is speculation that Salman Khurshid and Jairam Ramesh of Congress and Praful Patel of NCP could be elevated to Cabinet rank from the status of MoS Independent charge.
Khurshid, who is now in charge of Corporate Affairs and Minority Affairs, could move to Law Ministry in place Veerappa Moily who could be shifted to Human Resource Development, according to talk in the Congress circles.
Kapil Sibal, who is right now holding HRD and Telecom, may shed his third portfolio of Science and Technology.
He is unlikely to be disturbed from Telecom which was given to him after Raja’s resignation in the wake of 2G spectrum allocation scam.
Reports also suggest that C P Joshi (Rural Development), Vilasrao Deshmukh (Heavy Industry) and B K Handique (Mines) may also be drafted for party work.
Among the possible inductions are Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan, Manish Tewari and Rajiv Shukla.
Gandhi’s meeting comes a day after the Prime Minister met President Pratibha Patil.
Gandhi and Singh may have one more round of consultations before the reshuffle takes place.
Like Sibal, NCP leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has more than one portfolio and is likely to shed some of them.
There are some vacancies including that created by the resignation of A Raja, Prithviraj Chavan and Shashi Tharoor.
DMK, which has a vacancy in the Cabinet after Raja’s exit, may get a berth.
The name of T R Baalu, a former minister, or T K S Elangovan are among those mentioned from the party as a replacement for Raja.
Sudip Bandhopadhyay, a Trinamool Congress leader, may get a berth as a representative of the largest constituent after Congress in the UPA.
There has been no representation to three states in the Union ministry -Chhattisgarh, Goa and Manipur.