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E. Ahamed likely to get cabinet rank soon

Wednesday May 18, 2011 05:40:28 PM, George Joseph, IANS

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New Delhi: Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader and Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed is likely to be elevated to cabinet rank soon, well informed Congress sources said.

"This is part of a deal in the government formation by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala," a Congress leader told IANS Wednesday here on condition of anonymity.

The IUML, which won 20 seats in the recent assembly elections, has become an important ally in the UDF - which has a narrow majority bagging only 72 seats in the 140-member Kerala assembly.

Ahamed, who is in Kerala, and other IUML leaders in the state have been informed over phone of the offer by Congress central leaders, during the Kerala ministry formation talks in the past few days, he added.

According to the leader, Congress leadership made this offer to the IUML as it could not give sufficient representation to the ally in the Oommen Chandy-led Kerala ministry, which was sworn in with the first set of seven ministers in Thiruvananthapuram Wednesday.

The IUML had demanded five ministerial berths, claiming a berth each for every four legislators. It also argued its case saying the Congress party, with 38 seats, has been given chief ministership and nine other ministerial berths in the proposed 20-member ministry. However, the IUML had to agree to four ministers in the Chandy government.

According to sources, Ahamed's elevation will come in the cabinet reshuffle likely in a couple of weeks.

There will be at least two ministerial berths to be filled - the post vacated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and the vacancy with the resignation of Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, who will take over as West Bengal chief minister Friday.

The railways ministry will go to a Trinamool Congress nominee, probably Mukul Roy.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, soon after the cabinet expansion in January, had said that another substantial reshuffle was likely after the budget session of parliament - which was cut short in April because of the assembly polls.

According to Congress circles, Congress president Sonia Gandhi was also keen to "carry the IUML alongwith the UDF and meet its demands". She also has approved "compensating IUML with Ahamed's elevation at the centre", the Congress leader told IANS.

Ahamed, 73, a sixth term Lok Sabha member, had worked closely with Gandhi when the Congress was in opposition during 1998-2004.

He was made a minister of state for external affairs in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) I government 2004-2009.

Ahamed was made a minister of state in the railways ministry when the UPA-II assumed power in May 2009. In the reshuffle in January this year, he was shifted to the external affairs ministry.

Before moving to national politics in 1991, Ahamed was a legislator in Kerala for five terms and a state minister.

The IUML has two members in the Lok Sabha.

(George Joseph can be contacted at





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