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Sonia Gandhi asks Cong CMs to avoid induction of new ministers

Monday 5 July 2004

By India Express Bureau

In a move apparently aimed at warding off dissidence, AICC President Sonia Gandhi, faced with the difficult task of downsizing party governments, has asked Congress Chief Ministers to avoid, as far as possible, inducting new ministers.

Gandhi, who has interacted with several Congress Chief Ministers during the last two days on the issue, has told them that they should refrain from any fresh inductions to the extent possible, highly placed party sources said.

The Congress President’s directive could come as a dampner to some Chief Ministers who were planning to use the downsizing exercise, necessitated by a Constitutional amendment, to reshuffle their ministries and marginalise their detractors.

The downsizing would affect over 80 ministers in Congress-ruled states and in states like Bihar where it is sharing power with other parties.

The problem is more pronounced in NorthEastern states like Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur where more than 50 per cent of ministers are to be dropped and also in Maharashtra, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

As many as 56 Congress ministers are likely to be axed in North-Eastern states, 11 in Maharashtra, including two independents, eight in Punjab, three in Himachal Pradesh and four in Bihar.

Party sources said while there has been no fixed criteria for all states, Gandhi has asked the Chief Ministers to keep in mind the regional and social balance and the performance of the individual ministers, both in governance an their mobilisation for the party in the Lok Sabha polls.

P.S.

in "India Express", July 5, 2004.

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