NATIONAL

PM discusses Cabinet reshuffle

NEW DELHI SEPT. 6. The Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, today held consultations with his senior colleagues on the timing and content of the next Cabinet expansion/reshuffle. The exercise is scheduled to take place before Mr. Vajpayee leaves for his overseas trip on September 16.

Among those who formed the consultation core group this evening included the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, the Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, and the Bharatiya Janata Party president, Venkiah Naidu.

The unresolved debate is whether or not to effect the expansion before the inauspicious "pitar paksh" sets in on September 11.

The only certain new entrant is the leader of the Trinamool Congress, Mamata Banerjee. She is reportedly being offered the Ministry of Coal, whereas her preference is stated to be for the Ministry of Surface Transport, currently being held by the BJP, and there is reported to be reluctance to take away an increasingly prestigious portfolio from a BJP Minister in order to give it to Ms. Banerjee.

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