New Delhi: Amid speculation of a Cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met President Pranab Mukherjee for around 45 minutes today. According to sources, Dr Singh assured the President that the Congress-led UPA government has the numbers to stay in power.
After the exit of Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, the government is in minority. However, it is not in any imminent danger because regional heavyweights Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati will continue to lend external support despite differences over the Prime Minister's new reforms agenda. Senior ministers have pointed out that between them, Mr Yadav and Mayawati contribute 43 MPs, taking the UPA safely past the 272 votes it needs to remain in power.
After the meeting between Dr Singh and Mr Mukherjee, Rashtrapati Bhawan spokesperson Venu Rajamony said that Union Minister CP Joshi has been given additional charge of Railway ministry, a day after the resignation of Mukul Roy and other Trinamool Congress ministers. Mr Joshi was assigned with the additional charge by Mr Mukherjee on the advice of the PM. Mr Joshi already holds the portfolio of Road Transport and Highways ministry.
However, sources say that Mr Joshi's taking over the Railway portfolio may be a stop-gap arrangement ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle. President Pranab Mukherjee is scheduled to leave for a visit to Jammu and Kashmir on September 26, and sources add that the Cabinet reshuffle is likely to take place before his departure, as early as Monday.
The President today also accepted the resignation of Mr Roy and five other members of Trinamool Congress after the party, which has 19 MPs in the Lok Sabha, withdrew its support to the UPA government yesterday.
The others whose resignation was accepted by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister were Ministers of State Sudip Bandyopadhyay (Health and Family welfare), Saugata Roy (Urban Development), Choudhary Mohan Jatua (Information and Broadcasting), Sultan Ahmed (Tourism) and Sisir Adhikari (Rural Development).
(With inputs from PTI)