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55 ministers to take oath on Thursday

By Renu Mittal in New Delhi
Last updated on: May 27, 2009 12:26 IST
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The second round of Cabinet formation will take place on May 28 at 11.30 am when 55 ministers, including Cabinet, ministers of state and ministers of state with independent charge, will be sworn in.

This would put an end to the uncertainty and the cloud over government formation.

Among those who will take oath are Farooq Abdullah, the National Conference leader who is tipped to get tourism ministry, the three Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Cabinet ministers Dayanidhi Maran, MK Azhagiri, and A Raja along with four ministers of state, six ministers of state from the Trinamool Congress, E Ahmed from the Muslim League, a few Independents. The rest of the ministers will be from the Congress.

Sources said since there are no heavyweights from Bihar, efforts are on to rope in a few Independents who are giving support to the Congress and make them ministers.

The Janata Dal-United rebel Digvijay Singh, a former minister of state, is tipped to take oath as a minister of state with independent charge though he was lobbying to get a Cabinet berth. The other Janata Dal-U rebel who is likely to be sworn in as an MoS is O P Yadav, who won from Siwan. No Yadav from Bihar is in the Congress kitty this time round.

The biggest contingent to be sworn in would be from Uttar Pradesh where the Congress won 21 seats, shocking even its own estimation. Party general secretary Rahul Gandhi is said to be personally taking an interest in the leaders who would be made ministers, with SalmanĀ  Khurshid expected to come in as a Cabinet minister.

Among the senior leaders, Ambika Soni is tipped to get health and family welfare, Veerappa Moily surface transport, Kapil Sibal HRD, Murli Deora petroleum, Sushil Kumar Shinde power, Anand Sharma I&B, and C P Joshi panchayati raj. Jairam Ramesh is expected to be elevated as a minister of state with independent charge for environment and forests.

Sources said Sis Ram Ola from Rajasthan is lobbying heavily to be inducted as a minister though the prime minister is not happy with his performance. Balram Jakhar is said to be lobbying heavily for his induction too. Others in the race are Namo Narain Meena, Sachin Pilot, Chandresh Kumari, with Girija Vyas also throwing rank and wanting to be made a minister.

C P Joshi, who was sworn in as a Cabinet minister beating competition from 20 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs, is the toast of the town. He is tipped to get either rural development or panchayati raj, though he says his first preference is rural development, as the fruits of development should reach the villages.

Joshi, with a vast reservoir of experience in rural development and panchayati raj and is seen to have been handpicked by Rahul Gandhi for the job, said rural development should be integrated with panchayati raj as the execution agency is with the panchayats.

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi