The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cabinet shuffle eye on calendar

New Delhi, Sept. 24: The changes in the Congress organisation have set off speculation that a cabinet shuffle is in the offing.

But for the “inauspicious” period of “shraddh”, when little of significance is done in northern India, Congress sources said the exercise would have been carried out either this week or the following one.

According to the Hindu calendar, “shraddh” starts on September 26 and ends on October 11. No new minister would want to take his oath of office as long as this phase lasts.

The induction of young faces, starting with Rahul Gandhi, in the Congress is expected to send signals on the look Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi will want to give to the council of ministers.

While Rahul will be entrenched in the organisation, a senior functionary maintained that “quite a few” of the young MPs can expect to find a place in the government. On top of the charts are Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot and Deepinder Singh Hooda, the son of Haryana chief minister B.S. Hooda.

Tejaswini Seeramesh, the Karnataka MP who defeated H.D. Deve Gowda from Kanakpura in 2004, may find a place especially after she was left out of the organisation.

Sources did not rule out the possibility of senior Congress office-bearers going to the government in the sort of cross-over that began today when ministers like Prithviraj Chavan and Jairam Ramesh will start playing a bigger role in party affairs.

While Chavan and Ramesh will keep their ministries, Janardhan Dwivedi, a general secretary, is seen as a prospective minister. In today’s shuffle, Dwivedi lost the media department of which he was the chairperson as well as Punjab and Haryana of which he was in charge.

Dwivedi was perceived a “big loser” after he was asked to look after only organisational elections and training.

Dubbing Rahul’s appointment “dynastic rule”, the Opposition BJP said it was “least bothered”.

“After all, it is their dynasty. The Congress is known for dynastic rule. They feel proud of it,” BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said.

Asked to comment on Rahul’s appointment, Naidu replied: “What is so great about it' We are least bothered. It makes no difference to us.”

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