New Delhi: The Union council of ministers is set for a major reshuffle on Sunday, with at least 10 new faces likely to be inducted to it and some ministers of state to be promoted, besides a rejig in cabinet portfolios wherein Anand Sharma may be made minister for external affairs.

Ahead of the reshuffle, three cabinet ministers Ambika Soni (information and broadcasting), Mukul Wasnik (social justice) and Subodh Kant Sahai (tourism) resigned on Saturday along with three ministers of state Agatha Sangma (rural development), Mahadev Khandela (tribal affairs) and Vincent Pala (water resources), saying they would work for the party.

Interestingly, Sangma had to resign on the directions of her party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), after she campaigned for her father P.A. Sangma in the July presidential elections in defiance of the party. With this, the total number of ministers who have resigned has gone up to seven. External affairs minister S.M. Krishna had resigned on Friday. All the resignations have since been accepted.

The swearing-in ceremony of new ministers is scheduled at 11.30 am at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday when a number of new faces are likely to be inducted to the council of ministers. Rahul Gandhi, who was earlier speculated to be joining the government, is unlikely to do so.

Prominent among the newcomers expected to be inducted are actor-turned politician Chiranjeevi (Andhra Pradesh); A.H. Khan Chowdhry, brother of late A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhry, Pradeep Bhattacharya and Deepa Dasmunsi (West Bengal), Tariq Anwar (Maharashtra), Pradeep Balmuchu (Jharkhand) and Pradeep Majhi (Orissa).

Besides Purandeswari, who is tipped to replace Sharma at the commerce ministry, and Ajay Maken, who could also be promoted as a Cabinet minister, ministers of state who could be upgraded are Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Milind Deora.

Maken may get information and broadcasting portfolio. In the rejig of portfolios, urban development minister Kamal Nath is likely to be given additional charge of parliamentary affairs, now held by Pawan Kumar Bansal, who is expected to retain water resources. Anwar, an NCP member of Parliament, is expected to be made minister of state for agriculture to work under his party chief Sharad Pawar.

Along with the revamp in the council of ministers, there is a possibility of long-awaited restructuring in the All India Congress Committee (AICC), to make it organizationally ready for the next Lok Sabha elections due in 2014.

Submitting their resignations, Soni, Wasnik and Sahai said they will work for the party. PTI

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