New Delhi/Chennai, Jul 9: Hectic consultations are on at the highest levels in the government and UPA on a reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers that can take place as early as on Monday and indications are that DMK may not send its replacements for two vacancies.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the third time in more than a fortnight and is understood to have given finishing touches to the restructuring exercise.
Reshuffle plans acquired an urgency in the wake of resignation by DMK representative Dayanidhi Maran and Corporate Affairs Minister Murli Deora's offer to quit.
There was no official word on what transpired between Singh and Gandhi but speculation was rife that the reshuffle could take place as early as Monday evening.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee met M Karunanidhi in Chennai and is understood to have raised the issue of DMK sending its replacements to Maran and A Raja, who had quit earlier.
Mukherjee is understood to have offered two Cabinet berths to DMK to fill the vacancies but Karunanidhi has reportedly expressed reluctance to accept it, at least for the time being.
Karunandhi has conveyed to the Congress leadership that a decision on it can be taken only at the party's General Council meeting on July 23-24 in Coimbatore where the DMK is expected to review the political situation in the aftermath of the electoral debacle, including its relations with Congress.
After the meeting, Mukherjee merely said the alliance with DMK would be strengthened and parried a question whether DMK's replacements in the Cabinet was discussed.
The Prime Minister, after a minor rejig in the Council of Ministers in January, had said that he would undertake a major reshuffle. No one was dropped in that exercise.
There are a number of vacancies in the Union Cabinet like Railways following resignation of Mamata Banerjee who became West Bengal Chief Minister, and Textiles in the wake of Dayanidhi Maran's resignation on the 2G issue.
There are a number of ministers holding dual charge like Kapil Sibal who has Telecom and HRD. P K Bansal handles portfolios of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences and Parliamentary Affairs.
Civil Aviation is being held by Vayalar Ravi, the Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs.
Elevation of some ministers, particularly from Uttar Pradesh, which goes to polls next year is expected. There is also possibility of dropping some ministers considered to be non-performing.
There is talk that the big four—Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs—may not be touched in the reshuffle and some newcomers like Janardhan Dwivedi and Manish Tewari could make it to the Council of Ministers. PTI