Trinamool contingent arrives in Delhi, Dinesh Trivedi to be new Railway Minister?

Even as uncertainty continued on the date of the proposed reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers, the Trinamool Congress contingent arrived in the capital. Sources said Union Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi is to be elevated to the Union Cabinet as Union Railway Minister, while party MP Sudip Bandopadhyay will be inducted into the Council of Ministers to replace Mr. Trivedi as a Minister of State.

Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy, who is holding additional charge of Railways — and was believed to be Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's most trusted lieutenant — has lost out to Mr. Trivedi for the Cabinet slot, Trinamool sources said, for two reasons: Ms. Banerjee believes this arrangement will give Mr. Roy more time to help out in the State, while Mr. Trivedi, having spent many years in the national capital, knows his way around Delhi better. Ms. Banerjee's critics add that even if Mr. Trivedi becomes Cabinet Minister, he cannot be a threat to his leader in West Bengal, as he is of Gujarati origin.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have held three meetings so far on the proposed changes in the Union Council of Ministers, but no official word was available on the date of the reshuffle: sources now say it could be Tuesday or Wednesday. After the last reshuffle in January, the Prime Minister had promised “expansive changes” in the next round, but effecting those changes is proving to be very tough. For one, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has lost two Ministers but does not want to replace them right now, and other Ministers, whom the Prime Minister wanted to move out because of non-performance, are proving hard to shift.

Tension

Meanwhile, even as tension mounted among Ministers whose names were in circulation for a change or exit, Union Power Minister — and a prominent Dalit leader — Sushil Kumar Shinde publicly indicated that he would be more than willing to be a candidate for the Vice- Presidential election scheduled next year.

Union Tribal Affairs Minister Kanti Lal Bhuria, who was recently made Madhya Pradesh Pradesh Congress Committee president, may be divested of his ministerial responsibilities so that he can focus on rebuilding the party organisation in what is a Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled State. And with elections in Punjab next year, there could be some fresh representation, especially as there has been talk of dropping M.S. Gill from the Union Cabinet. There could be also changes at the middle level — with Ministers being given Independent charge in the rank of Ministers of State.

More In: National | News