NEW DELHI, July 11 � Senior Congress Lok Sabha MP from Assam Paban Singh Ghatowar is almost certain to find a place in the Dr Manmohan Singh Ministry. The two-year-old UPA II Government is being reshuffled on Tuesday afternoon.
Contrary to expectations, the impending expansion may not be a grand affair, as earlier anticipated, and the entire exercise may be limited to induction of a few new faces though a massive change of portfolios is on the cards.
Meanwhile, there was no word on the fate of Minister of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Bijoy Krishna Handique. Till the time of filing this report, Handique had not heard from either the Prime Minister�s Office (PMO) or the AICC leadership, asking him to quit.
Amidst reports that Minister of DoNER along with a handful of Congress Ministers may be asked to put in their papers, Handique told this newspaper that he had not been contacted so far. �If I am asked to step down, I will do so and complete rest of my Lok Sabha term as an MP,� the Minister said, expressing his desire to continue in active politics.
A sense of despair hung over the Minister�s office, as his crestfallen personal staff members went about their chores. The Minister himself did not attend office on Monday and kept track of the political developments from home. Reports have it that Handique, along with Murli Deora, Kanti Lal Bhuria, M S Gill and Vilas Rao Desmukh might be asked to step down.
On the other hand, Ghatowar is all set to be inducted in the Central Ministry, though the prospect of PCC president and Rajya Sabha MP Bhubaneswar Kalita is uncertain. Kalita and Lok Sabha MP Ranee Narah were two other aspirants for ministerial berths.
The INTUC leader belonging to the tea community, Ghatowar is currently the Congress party�s chief whip in Lok Sabha and also the ruling party�s Pradesh Returning Officer for Uttar Pradesh. The INTUC had pressed for Ghatowar�s induction into the Cabinet.
Sources said that the impending reshuffle may be limited to only Lok Sabha Members and prospects of Rajya Sabha MPs appear slim.
Meanwhile, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday met for the fourth time to give final touches to the new list, sources said.
Indications are that the �Big Four� ministers � Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister AK Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna � may not be affected in the reshuffle.
The reshuffle follows a series of corruption allegations, which forced two ministers � A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran � to quit office and tarnished the image of the UPA-II Government
The reshuffle may see Dinesh Trivedi of the Trinamool Congress and party colleague Sudip Bandyopadhyay being inducted as ministers while Minister of State for Railways Mukul Roy may be given independent charge.
Congress sources said ministers from Uttar Pradesh like Beni Prasad Verma and Salman Khursheed may be moved to weightier ministries while actor-politician Raj Babbar and Congress spokesman Manish Tewari may be inducted as ministers.
Charan Das Mahant, MP from Korba in Chhattisgarh, may also find a berth in the Council of Ministers. Mahant is the only Congress MP from the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled State.
Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Srikant Jena is likely to be promoted to Cabinet rank to give proper representation to Orissa. Some of the young Congress ministers like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot and RN Singh are also hopeful of promotions. Muslim League Kerala State Committee nominee E Ahamed has been lobbying for a promotion as a Minister of State with independent charge.
Sources said Law Minister M Veerapa Moily may be shifted to Human Resource Development Ministry while Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad could be given charge of Parliamentary Affairs.