Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday held parleys with some union ministers and senior party leaders amid indications of a Cabinet reshuffle.
Those who met Ms. Gandhi at her official residence at 10—Janpath included Road and Transport Minister C.P. Joshi, who has been given additional charge of Railways after resignation of Trinamool Congress ministers including Mukul Roy from the government.
Ms. Gandhi also had a meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan whose name is doing the rounds for a Cabinet berth at the Centre, along with Narayan Rane and some others.
AICC incharge for Maharashtra Mohan Prakash also met Ms. Gandhi.
Sources said Maharashtra will be represented in the Cabinet after two vacancies were created following shifting of Chavan as Chief Minister and the demise of Vilasrao Deshmukh.
The Congress president also held deliberations with Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, AICC treasurer Motilal Vora and her secretary Ahmed Patel.
There was earlier a talk that Mr. Azad could be drafted for party work. However, there was no confirmation.
Cabinet reshuffle looms after Trinamool exit
With Trinamool Congress ministers pulling out of the UPA government, a cabinet reshuffle appears imminent and could take place over the next few days, Congress sources said.
The sources said that the reshuffle could take place just before or after President Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Jammu and Kashmir beginning Wednesday.
According to Congress sources, a reshuffle could be a substantial affair with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh giving ample hint of pursuing the reforms agenda.
The reshuffle would not only fill existing vacancies but may also rationalise work of ministers having more portfolios than one.
According to the sources, there was a possibility of the Congress keeping the railway ministry which was with the Trinamool Congress in the UPA-II.
Road Transport Minister C.P. Joshi has been given the additional charge of the railways, a ministry which has not been held by a Congress leader for over 15 years.
The sources said there was no indication so far that party general secretary Rahul Gandhi will join the government and there was likelihood of his assuming a bigger role in the party organisation.
With six ministers from TMC leaving, two to three Congress leaders from West Bengal are expected to be accommodated. The names of Deepa Dasmunshi and Adhir Choudhury, known detractors of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and West Bengal PCC chief Pradeep Bhatacharjee are doing the rounds.
A leader from Maharashtra could be inducted to replace Vilasrao Deshmukh, who passed away recently.
Vacancies had also been created by the resignation of Virbhadra Singh in June this year, and two ministers belonging to the DMK - A.Raja and Dayanidhi Maran - resigning earlier.
The ministers holding dual charge include M. Veerappa Moily, Vayalar Ravi and Kapil Sibal, besides Mr. Joshi.
Three to four young leaders close to Mr. Rahul Gandhi are also likely to be inducted. Names of Meenakhshi Natarajan and Manik Tagore are in circulation.
Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai and Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal have been facing allegations from the opposition over the allocation of coal blocks and there is some speculation about their continuance in the council of ministers.
The party sources also said that the reshuffle could see some ministers being drafted for party work or given organisational responsibilities along with their work in the government as part of preparations for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi will give final shape to the cabinet reshuffle after talking to allies of the United Progressive Alliance government.
"This would probably be the last major reshuffle before the 2014 elections. The changes will be made keeping the next elections in view," a Congress leader said.
The sources said that the Congress would strive towards result-oriented governance in the next few months with thrust on the performance of ministries dealing with infrastructure to boost growth.