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Sonia's team will have fresh faces

May 14, 2004 12:58 IST
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The Congress-led government at the centre is likely to put several new faces in crucial ministries. Harvard educated Jyotiraditya Scindia, ace lawyer Kapil Sibal and Ajay Maken, better known in Delhi as Mr CNG, are tipped to be in the Union council of ministers.

If the Communist Party of India decides to join the government, Sitaram Yechury is almost sure to bag a place in Cabinet. "Sonia Gandhi is fond of him and would like to include him in the government. The Left will be given populist portfolios like railways, and food and civil supplies. The major economic ministries and policy portfolios will remain with the Congress," a Congress leader said.

The induction of young blood in the government will be a priority in keeping with Gandhi's public criticism of the BJP during the campaign that the government was being run by a gerontocracy.

Parties that join the government will give a list of their nominees to the Congress, which will then forward a final list to President A P J Abdul Kalam. Before that, however, the allies will work out a common minimum programme.

Specialists like former foreign secretary J N Dixit; former Planning Commission adviser Jairam Ramesh and former vice-chief of defence staff General M M Lakhera are also likely to be assigned strategic tasks, perhaps in the role of advisors to the prime minister.

Manmohan Singh is likely to be the finance minister and Pranab Mukherjee may get the foreign affairs portfolio. NCP chief Sharad Pawar, if he joins the government, may get his old portfolio, defence, back.

The other likely faces likely to be in the cabinet are Jaipal Reddy, Kamal Nath and Priyaranjan Dasmunshi.

The government-formation exercise is likely to begin only after May 17 when the Left parties convey their plans to the Congress.

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