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Sonia meets PM to discuss ministry expansion

Last updated on: May 26, 2009 18:06 IST

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a second round of discussions on cabinet expansion. Gandhi, who drove to the prime minister's residence, was accompanied by her political advisor Ahmed Patel.

The Union Council of Ministers is expected to be expanded on Thursday during which representatives of the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam and other United Progressive Alliance allies would be among those inducted in the government.

Earlier in the day, Gandhi had chaired a meeting of the Congress core group which was attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony and Ahmed Patel.

Sources said issues related to the allocation of ministerial berths and portfolios have been sorted out with all allies.

There was speculation that Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee wanted eight ministerial berths -- one Cabinet and seven Ministers of State -- against the seven -- one Cabinet and six MoS -- already allocated to her party.

Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel will retain Civil Aviation, the sources said after the meeting.

Even within the Congress, there have been pulls and pressures over the ministerial berths and portfolios, but sources said such matters have been addressed.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi on Monday had a four-hour-long meeting to discuss the expansion of the council of ministers, which was initially expected to take place today.

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