Monday, September 8, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Mamata to be reinducted into Cabinet today
Reshuffle of portfolios likely
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is undertaking a minor expansion of his Cabinet here tomorrow bringing back Ms Mamata Banerjee as one of the ministers after 30 months.

The Trinamool Congress chief along with a candidate from the MDMK party will take the oath of office and secrecy at Rashtrapati Bhavan at 1 pm tomorrow.

Mr G.G. Ramachandran of the MDMK, who had resigned as the Minister of State for Finance in the wake of the arrest of his PA on the charge of a bribe, is likely to join the Union Council of Ministers.

MDMK leader Vaiko, who is currently in jail in Tamil Nadu facing charges under POTA, is understood to have conveyed to the Prime Minister that Mr Ramachandran was his choice for inclusion in the Cabinet.

Mr Vajpayee had yesterday held consultations with Mr L.K. Advani, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh and BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Cabinet expansion.

There could be a consequential reshuffle of portfolios of ministers following the expansion, an official spokesman said here.

It is understood that Ms Banerjee is being given the charge of Ministry of Coal. The Trinamool leader was very keen to have either the Ministry of Civil Aviation or the Ministry of Rural Development but it was firmly conveyed to her that she should either accept Coal or remain out of the government.

The Trinamool supremo quit as Railway Minister in 2001 following the Tehelka uproar.

Simultaneously, her party also pulled out of the NDA, demanding the resignation of Defence Minister George Fernandes.

After a little more than a year, she led her party to a re-entry into the ruling coalition at the Centre in May 2002, immediately after the West Bengal Assembly elections, breaking the short-lived alliance she had forged with the Congress in the state.

Since then, her return to the Union Council of Ministers has been speculated everytime a reshuffle-cum-expansion was effected.

Hopes were again raised for a berth for Ms Banerjee in the Cabinet when the Prime Minister effected a reshuffle on May 24. The Prime Minister’s move to simultaneously induct Mr Sudip Bandopadhyay, Ms Banerjee’s bete noire in the party, angered the firebrand leader from West Bengal, leading to the postponement of her entry as a minister once again.

The Prime Minister had declared then that he would effect a minor expansion shortly. Today, he personally called her on the phone and invited her for a discussion in New Delhi tomorrow on the portfolios and the ministerial berths which could possibly be allotted to her party.

Sources said former Minister of State for External Affairs Ajit Panja may also join the Council of Ministers but the final choice would be made by the Trinamool supremo.

Minister of State for Railways Bangaru Dattatreya, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, is likely to be dropped from the Council of Ministers as he is being tipped to return to the state for leading the BJP in the Assembly elections due next year.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |