The long-awaited cabinet reshuffle is now imminent. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday met President Pratibha Patil and sought time to expand his council of ministers.File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with President Pratibha Patil.Sources say Jyotiraditya Scindia could take over as Minister of State for External Affairs, a position lying vacant since the exit of Shashi Tharoor.Rajiv Shukla could be brought in as MoS Parliamentary Affairs.K. Rahman Khan, currently the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, could take over as the Minority Affairs Minister.Salman Khurshid could be elevated to a cabinet post.Sharad Pawar’s request of being divested of Food and Civil Supplies portfolio could also be taken up in this reshuffle.Kapil Sibal is likely to retain the Communications and Information Technology portfolio.It remains to be known who will be the replacement for Prithviraj Chavan as the Minister of State in the PMO.The challengesThe prime minister may utilise the opportunity to regain the lost momentum by bringing in new faces in his cabinet. He has met Congress President Sonia Gandhi more than twice in the last one week to chalk out the entire exercise.The coalition compulsions for the prime minister are many. On the one hand the DMK is pushing for T.R. Baalu’s re-induction into the cabinet in place of A. Raja, while on the other the NCP wants Praful Patel, currently the minister of state for civil aviation with an independent charge, to be elevated to cabinet rank.advertisementBut the Prime Minister is likely to assert his authority and even show the door to some of his colleagues.Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister C.P. Joshi could get the boot.B.K. Handique and Virbhadra Singh could also be eased out owing to their advanced age.Even Sports Minister M.S. Gill could be replaced.Sources told Headlines Today that I&B Minister Ambika Soni and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad could also be interested in party work.The Prime Minister is likely to bring in more representation from states like Uttar Pradesh, which has sent 22 MPs to the Parliament, but doesn’t have a single cabinet minister.