Ahead of the promised “expansive changes” in his Council of Ministers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are engaged in a careful exercise to assess the performance of ministers, their suitability in current portfolios, and gaps in caste and regional representation. The fate of Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran continues to hang in the balance.

With clear vacancies in the Raj Bhavans of Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and some incumbents keen on a shift — including back into active politics — the reshuffle exercise is likely to involve governors too, party and government sources said.

Even as speculation rages on the timing and enormity of the changes, Congress sources said the exercise will also be segued with filling the blanks in the party organisation, while keeping an eye on the crucial Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab due next year.

The Congress hopes a dramatic change in the Council of Ministers will energise its workers and send out a message that it means business.

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