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New government begins taking shape

New Delhi, May 19 (ANI): Political activity in the national capital has picked up with various parties jostling and lobbying for their representatives’ inclusion in the new cabinet.

With the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) convening a meeting of its victorious parliamentarians in Parliament House, the major contenders bidding for inclusion are Rashtriya Janata Dal chief and former Railway Minister Lalu Yadav, who has been a steady supporter of the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and former Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Tamil Nadu’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which defied political odds and emerged victorious in the general elections.

The Congress, which has achieved a decisive popular mandate, is debating over whether it needs to include Samajwadi Party supreme Mulayam Singh Yadav in the cabinet, as his party, which is ready to offer outside support, played a crucial role in extending support to the UPA during the debate over the US-India nuclear cooperation deal.

There is speculation by certain elements within the Congress, who feel that the Samajwadi Party wavered during the elections, and that it would be a better option to rely on leaders of smaller parties like Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, H D Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) and Omar Abdullah of the National Conference.

The Bahujan Samaj Party, which is led by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, has said today that it is ready to extend outside support to the UPA Government.

The Congress will also have to be mindful of the fact that it does not enjoy majority status in the Rajya Sabha and that the inclusion of some of these groups in the government would help the Congress to push its program through the Upper House.

Within the Congress, there is a possibility that younger elements like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Milind Deora and Sachin Pilot may be accommodated in the Cabinet.

Insofar as the profile of the cabinet is concerned, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, will have to take crucial decisions like who he would like as his Railway and HRD Ministers and whether to include or not to include Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in the cabinet. There is also speculation that former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and Dr. Singh’s close confidant, Dr. Montek Singh Alhuwalia, will be made the Finance Minister.

As far as the profile of the Prime Minister’s Office is concerned, the expectation is that National Security Adviser M.K.Narayanan will continue in the same assignment as he has been able to maintain an even keel during the management of several crises, and has a background as Director of the Intelligence Bureau and head of the Joint Intelligence Group. Former PIO and now media adviser to the PM, Deepak Sandhu, is also expected to be retained. The new government will also be on the lookout for a new Home Secretary, as the present incumbent, Madhukar Gupta is to superannuate after receiving an extension. A new Foreign Secretary is expected to be in place by July with the superannuation of present incumbent Shiv Shankar Menon.

Among other expected to get fresh assignments are former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, who played a notable role in finalizing the US-India civil nuclear cooperation deal. (ANI)

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