Kapil Sibal to take charge of Law Ministry, C P Joshi gets Railways

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal was today given additional charge of Law Ministry while Road and Transport Minister C P Joshi the Railways portfolio following the resignation of Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Bansal last night.

Rashtrapati Bhawan communique made these announcements after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recommended these changes to President Pranab Mukherjee, who accepted the resignations of Kumar and Bansal.

Sibal and Joshi will be in charge of these portfolios in addition to their existing ministries of IT and Communications and Road and Transport respectively.

Sibal, an eminent lawyer himself, will get an opportunity to handle the Law Ministry for the first time, while Joshi has held the Railway portfolio as temporary charge last year after the exit of Trinamool Congress nominee Mukul Roy.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had written to President Pranab Mukherjee recommending the changes, a day after Kumar and Bansal resigned in the wake of allegations of bribery and interfering with the CBI probe in the Coalgate scam.

The changes in the portfolios notwithstanding, there is speculation that there could be a reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers to fill up some vacancies caused by the DMK's exit from the government and placing new nominees in the departments being held as additional charge.

Amid the new reshuffle, Congress President Sonia has reportedly called a meeting of senior party leaders to discuss the new development. According to media reports, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is unlikely to be part of the meeting. Congress leader Ahmed Patel is expected to brief the Prime Minister later.

Kumar and Bansal got marching orders late Friday evening about three hours after Congress President Sonia Gandhi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss their future.

Kumar was forced to resign after he came under attack over vetting of CBI report in the probe into coal block allocation scam.

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