Cabinet reshuffle in the offing?

New Delhi: Uncertainty prevails over the much-talked about expansion-cum-reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers.

The exercise could now take place before the Monsoon session of Parliament beginning August one or after the session is over on September 8, highly-placed sources said.

Though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi had a meeting last Sunday, the sources said that the consultations over the reshuffle were yet to take place.

As political circles were agog with reports of reshuffle, Union Minister and National Conference representative in the UPA government Farooq Abdullah said the Prime Minister probably wants to have new faces so that in the remaining three years of its term the government can "serve well".

Another Cabinet Minister Salman Khurshid, who belongs to Congress, said the government was working in a transparent manner and if there had been "hiccups" in matters of governance they were being attended to.

The government is also expected to appoint some Governors and top bureaucrats in some of the key ministries in the next few weeks.

The possibility of reshuffle gained momentum after the victory of Mamata Banerjee, who became the Chief Minister of West Bengal, and resigned as Railway Minister at the Centre.

There is speculation that her party colleague Mukul Roy, who has been given additional charge of Minister of State in the Railway, will be elevated to the Cabinet rank in the Railway ministry.

Ministers like Kapil Sibal are holding more than one portfolio. While there are some vacancies including that created by the resignation of A Raja in the wake of the 2G spectrum scam and Prithviraj Chavan, who became Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

In Tamil Nadu, S S Barnala has completed his tenure as Governor of the state and the Centre may be looking at a new candidate.

In the bureaucracy, Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai is retiring this month end while Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao will retire next month.