Pull and Pressure Defer First Cabinet Expansion to Thursday

The first expansion of the Cabinet scheduled to take place on Tuesday has been deferred to May 28 due to UPA’s allies haggling over more berths and the Congress failing to find a formula to satisfy allies and to appease partymen.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi met to try and finalise names for berths in the next Cabinet expansion. The meeting was held at the PM’s residence and attended by Congress leader Ahmed Patel.

According to information, the delay took place because of dissent within the Congress as the government is yet to assign portfolios to 13 leaders who had been sworn in on Friday last. While leaders of UPA allies who had been sworn in had assumed charge of ministries along with a few Congress leaders while the majority are yet to be assigned berths.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had to cancel a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Senior leaders Pranab Mukherjee, AK Antony and her political adviser Ahmed Patel met the Congress chief in lieu of the PM.

With name of likely ministries remaining uncertain, some young faces could be inducted this time around. Congress has been left with over 40 seats for its own partymen.

Several important allies will also find place in the list. The DMK, which threw a tantrum of extending outside support and later recanting it, will get 3 Cabinet berths and 4 ministers of state posts.

This could mean that the PM will have to offer one more berth to the Trinamool Congress. The party is likely to get 6 MoS berths.

National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah is expected to get a Cabinet ministry while the NCP is tipped to get two more MoSs after Sharad Pawar was inducted into the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, sources said six Trinamool Congress leaders hopeful of bagging MoS posts are meeting Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee at North Block in the evening

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