New Delhi: Caretaker Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who stepped down from his post as head of government on Monday so that he can be sworn in later this week to lead the new government, is keen to retain most of the cabinet ministers from the party, both Rajya Sabha members and those who have retained their Lok Sabha seats, say Congress leaders.
Second innings: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left) meets President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday. Reuters
According to a party leader who did not want to be identified, the leadership may advise Singh to induct party general secretaries such as Mukul Wasnik, Mohsina Kidwai and Ghulam Nabi Azad in the new government. However, Arjun Singh, who was human resource development minister, and H.R. Bharadwaj, law minister, may not figure in the list. Both are Rajya Sabha members.
There were 10 other Congress members of Parliament, or MPs, from the Upper House in the cabinet. Six party ministers, including Mani Shankar Aiyar, Shankarsinh Vaghela and Renuka Chowdhury, have lost the elections and P.R. Kyndiah, in charge of tribal affairs, did not contest.
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The leader also said Manmohan Singh is keen that Pranab Mukherjee, A.K. Antony and P. Chidambaram retain their external affairs, defence and home ministr portfolios, respectively. There may be changes in others’ portfolios, he added.
Singh submitted the resignation of the cabinet headed by him to President Pratibha Patil, who asked him to continue till a new ministry is formed. She also dissolved the 14th Lok Sabha with immediate effect, paving the way for the constitution of the new House, which is expected later this month.
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Singh and his new council of ministers may take oath on 22 May, a day after the party observes the 18th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi.
Officially, the Congress refused to give out any details about the government formation. “The Congress parliamentary party (CPP) will meet on Wednesday to elect the CPP chairperson. The Congress and its pre-poll partners will meet on 20 May to discuss the future plans,” party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said.
Meanwhile, pressure on party general secretary Rahul Gandhi, seen as the architect of its surprising victory, to become a minister is continuing despite resistance from the Amethi MP.
“Rahul Gandhi should be in the government and the party. He should act as a link between the party and the government,” said a Congress general secretary, requesting anonymity.
‘PTI’ contributed to this story.
Graphics by Sandeep Bhatnagar / Mint