With P Chidambaram expected to be named as Finance Minister as early as Wednesday,Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has emerged as the frontrunner to replace him in the Home Ministry. The changes are to be made through a Cabinet reshuffle ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament starting August 8,sources said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,who had kept the finance portfolio with himself after Pranab Mukherjee became President,has decided to appoint Chidambaram in his place,they said. A full Cabinet overhaul,however,will take place only after the monsoon session in September.
While Rahul Gandhi has agreed to shoulder a bigger responsibility in the party and the Congress leadership is veering around the idea of appointing him AICC general secretary (Organisation),he is yet to decide on joining the government. Congress president Sonia Gandhi is,however,keen on her son being in both,the party and the government,sources said.
Although the Prime Minister was keen on inducting Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as Home Minister,sources said the party high command has been forced to do a re-think due to the TINA (There Is No Alternative) factor in Delhi.
If Dikshit were to be shifted to the Centre,she would have to get elected as MP within six months. However,no Rajya Sabha seat will fall vacant until July 2013 and even that will be in the nominated category. The Congress high command is learnt to be wary of getting a Lok Sabha seat vacated for a bye-poll for her. Besides,Dikshit remains the partys best bet in the assembly elections due next year,sources said.
The Congress leadership is closely tracking the CBI investigation into the Adarsh housing scam and the possibility of Shinde getting further embroiled in it. Sources said that while some files relating to Adarsh did contain some signatures of Shinde,there is nothing so far to suggest any wrongdoing.
If the UPA leadership is convinced Shinde will not be affected by the Adarsh probe,he could also become leader of the house in the Lok Sabha,a post earlier held by Pranab Mukherjee. A decision is yet to be taken on Shindes replacement in the power ministry,the sources said.