Ajay Maken, C P Joshi resign, cabinet reshuffle tomorrow

The much awaited reshuffle of the Union Cabinet will take place tomorrow, ahead of which C P Joshi also stepped down as Cabinet Minister after Ajay Maken.

Both Joshi and Maken had handed over their resignations last night. Their resignations were today accepted by President Pranab Mukherjee with immediate effect, a Rashtrapati Bhawan communique said.

The reshuffle will take place tomorrow evening, a Rashtrapati Bhawan spokesperson said.

The reshuffle-cum-expansion is expected to be utilised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to fill several vacancies in his Council of Ministers.

The exercise will come one day after the overhaul of the Congress party apparatus in which Maken and Joshi along with Ambika Soni and Gurudas Kamat were brought in as General Secretaries by the party which dropped Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Oscar Fernandes from these posts.

The names of Meenakshi Natarajan, considered close to party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, and Fernandes are being mentioned in Congress circles for a possible berth in the Union Council of Ministers. There was also speculation that Minister of State Charan Das Mahant, who hails from poll-bound Chattisgarh where the Congress leadership was attacked by Maoists recently, will be elevated.

Joshi, who was holding dual portfolios of Surface Transport and Highways and Railways, resigned following "directives" from the Congress high command, sources close to him told PTI.

"Whatever new role the party assigns me I will perform that to the best of my ability," Joshi tweeted.

Maken, who was Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, has expressed his desire to work for the party. His resignation comes ahead of Assembly elections in Delhi later this year.

The reshuffle of the Council of Ministers is expected to be the last such exercise in UPA-II with Lok Sabha elections less than a year away. This is the second reshuffle since October last year.

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