New Delhi, Nov 15: HRD Minister Kapil Sibal was today given the additional charge of the Telecom Ministry in an indication that an early reshuffle or expansion of the Union Council of Ministers may be unlikely.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave Telecom portfolio, from which controversial A Raja resigned last night, to Sibal in a move that takes away the ministry from the DMK at least for the time being.
The arrangement is seen to be temporary in view of the ongoing Parliament session when issues related to the ministry are to be handled at the senior level, particularly when allegations of corruption in 2G spectrum allocation have erupted.
Normally, a reshuffle of the Council of Ministers is not undertaken during a Parliament session.
Sibal, a renowned lawyer-turned-politician, was last week given the additional charge of Ministries of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, which fell vacant after incumbent Prithviraj Chavan was made Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Commenting on the additional charge given to him, Sibal said any ministry when given is a challenge and decisions should be taken after proper thinking.
Reacting to Prime Minister's move, DMK Parliamentary Party leader T R Baalu said party chief M Karunanidhi has not yet decided on a successor to A Raja and suggested that Sibal getting Telecom as additional charge could be a "stop-gap arrangement".
"No one has any say on the issue except the Prime Minister. As such, our leader (M Karunanidhi) has not given any name to succeed Raja to the Prime Minister," he told PTI here.
"It is 100 per cent the prerogative of the Prime Minister to allot vacant portfolios. DMK has three cabinet slots in the UPA government and with the exit of Raja, one slot is vacant," he said.
"Our leader will take a decision on the successor after consultations with senior party leaders and then convey the name to the Prime Minister," he said.
In another decision, V Narayanasamy, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, was given additional charge of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which also fell vacant after Chavan's departure.
Congress sources said Sibal being given additional charge does not mean that the portfolio has been taken away from the DMK. PTI