Amid speculation of an imminent Cabinet reshuffle, following a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil on Monday evening, there is talk that Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad may be moved to Parliamentary Affairs, as he not only has past experience in the Ministry but the seniority to deal effectively with the Opposition parties. The current incumbent, Pawan Kumar Bansal, is also holding Water Resources.
Of the allies, Nationalist Congress Party leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who has been in the firing line for the soaring food prices, may have one of his three portfolios — Food and Civil Supplies — taken away; last year Mr. Pawar publicly said he had asked the Prime Minister to ease his burden. Mr. Pawar has also been the subject of a great deal of criticism in Congress circles, with the party holding him responsible in large part for the spiralling food prices. If Mr. Pawar's burden is lightened, the NCP may be compensated by elevating Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel to the Cabinet.
From the Trinamool Congress, Sudip Bandopdhaya's name is being taken as a possible new entrant as a Minister of State to appease Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has attacked the Congress publicly for the price hike. The exit of Mr. Raja has meant that a replacement from the DMK is on the cards.