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Union Cabinet Reshuffle-Expansion Likely Next Week

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A reshuffle-cum-expansion of the Union Council of Ministers could take place next week.

Sources say the rejig could happen as early as even by Monday, 17 June '2013 in which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could utilise the opportunity to fill several vacancies in his council of ministers.

The exercise is expected to be the last reshuffle in the UPA 2 with Lok Sabha elections less than a year away.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earier said that there are some vacancies and the issue of filling them up is being considered.

Ajay Maken on 15 June resigned as a Union minister ahead of the reshuffle of the Council of Ministers and that of the AICC expected next week.

Maken submitted his resignation as Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and has expressed his desire to work for the party, sources told PTI.

The 49-year-old leader was earlier Minister of State for Home Affairs and was later given independent charge of Sports and Youth Affairs. Maken was elevated to the Cabinet rank in October last year.

Before Maken, vacancies in the Council of Ministers were created by the resignations of Union Ministers P K Bansal and Ashwani Kumar.

Bansal quit as Railways Minister last rpt last month in the wake of bribery scandal involving his nephew and a Railway Board member.

Kumar resigned as Law Minister following a controversy over vetting of a CBI probe report on coal block allocation scam.

The portfolio of Railways has been given to Road and Highways Minister C P Joshi as an additional charge while that of Law has gone to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal as additional ministry.

Under the reshuffle, ministers holding two portfolios could be divested of one.

With DMK and TMC withdrawing support from UPA government within less than a year, a number of slots vacated by them are yet to filled up.

Five ministers of DMK had resigned on March 20 this year after which there has been no rejig in the Union Council of Ministers.

They were holding Minister of State position in Finance, Commerce and Industry, Health and Family Welfare and Social Justice ministries. The only cabinet minister they had was M K Alagiri who was in-charge of Chemical and Fertilisers.

Two cabinet ministers of DMK had resigned earlier -- Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja, the latter in connection with the 2G telecom spectrum allocation scam.

There are a number of other ministers holding more than one portfolios. They are likely to be asked to shed one of them.

A number of ministers are also likely to be asked to quit because the party is keen to draft them for organisational works ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls.