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Vayalar Ravi dismisses Cabinet reshuffle report

New Delhi, Wed, 25 Apr 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Apr 24 (ANI): Union Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi on Tuesday rubbished media reports that he along with several other senior UPA ministers has written to Congress President Sonia Gandhi willing to be relieved of their portfolios.

"I have never written any letter. Party made me the minister. At the meanwhile, whenever I am there, whenever I do the ministerial work, I have been entrusted with the party work also occasionally," said Ravi.

"Last year also, I have been sent to some states, I have been sent to different states many times. This time, I have been asked to look after the Andhra affairs because Ghulam Nabi could not go. So, I had to do some work," he added.

Several senior ministers of the Manmohan Singh-led UPA-II Cabinet have reportedly written to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, saying that they would like to be relieved of their portfolios and would like to work for the party.

Two television channels-Times Now and CNN-IBN-have quoted sources, as saying that the ministers include Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Law and Justice and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vyalar Ravi.

The news channels are saying that there are more ministers ready to work for the party and there is also view that Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi may be asked to take on more responsibilities than at present.

Though there is no confirmation from the Congress Party about a reshuffle or a reorganisation being in the offing, there is a possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle taking place after the budget session of parliament concludes in the third week of May.

Ramesh and Khurshid are seen as being important for fine-tuning the Congress's election strategy ahead of the 2014 general elections.

In 2004, Ramesh's aam aadmi slogan struck an emotional cord with the electorate and helped the UPA in defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.

Several leaders have said that a more people friendly schemes are needed to be announced if the party wants to return to power in 2014.

The move to strengthen the party may coincide with the UPA-II completing three years in power on May 22.

Senior leaders could be replaced by younger Members of Parliament in the Union Cabinet.

The plan to revive the Congress has been taken following the initial report of the A.K. Antony Committee, which looked into reasons for the party's extremely poor show in the recent Assembly elections in five states.

The final report, which will be submitted to Sonia Gandhi by end of April, points out that a weak organisation was the main reason behind the party's rout.

Sonia Gandhi had set up the Antony Committee with Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde as the two other members following the Assembly elections rout, particularly to study the Congress's show in Uttar Pradesh where Amethi MP and General Secretary Rahul Gandhi had worked very hard and almost made it a prestige issue.

Sonia Gandhi is also peeved over the conduct of Congress lawmakers from the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, who have defied the party leadership and disrupted proceedings in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

At the Congress Core Committee meeting where the decision to suspend eight Congress Members of Parliament from Telangana was taken, there was a view that a wrong signal would go out if the if party was not able to control its own lawmakers in Parliament. everal crucial states elections are scheduled in the next year and the party is trying to revive its fortunes.

There is a major leadership crisis in Andhra Pradesh where the party did exceedingly well during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress Government of K Kiran Kumar Reddy is facing a tough challenge from YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy, who is using the name of his father and former Andhra chief minister late Y.S. Rajashekhar Reddy to establish his political authority.

The plan to revive the party by bringing in senior ministers back into the party is a throwback to the K Kamaraj Plan of the 1960s. Under the Kamaraj Plan, several senior Congress leaders resigned form their posts and went back to the party to revitalise it.

Several senior leaders like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram, Morarji Desai and S.K. Patil resigned and started working for the party. (ANI)

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