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Indian foreign minister quits

Publication Date : 27-10-2012


The much-awaited reshuffle-cum-expansion of India's Union Council of Ministers finally appeared certain yesterday as External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna tendered his resignation, and some other ministers, including Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and Social Justice Minister Mukul Wasnik offered to quit.

There were still doubts about whether the All India Congress Committee General Secretary Rahul Gandhi would join the Council of Ministers, although there were strong indications that younger ministers close to him could be elevated to Cabinet rank, along with the entry of some new faces. Those likely to be elevated to the Cabinet rank included Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot and Milind Deora, while actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi was likely to be among the new faces.

There was also strong speculation about some ministers being dropped for being controversial or for being involved in various scams. They included the Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai, and Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal.

The “Kamraj Plan” like revamp in the Congress Party and the government was unveiled when the 80-year-old external affairs minister sent his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the afternoon.

It was believed that Krishna was likely to be given a party assignment in his home state Karnataka where he was once chief minister. Assembly elections are due there before next May.

After sending his resignation, he said: “I want youngsters to be given a chance. I am a loyal party worker and I work for the party without any conditions.”

Although Krishna’s exit came after yesterday’s reports that a Karnataka Lokayukta court had ordered a probe into his alleged involvement in the Mysore-Bangalore Express Highway scam, along with two other former state chief ministers, it was a clear indication that the Union Council of Ministers was set for a major revamp.

There are several vacancies with the exit of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Trinamul Congress Ministers, which forced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to assign additional portfolios to other ministers.

A Cabinet Minister from Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh, died recently. While the ministers handling more than one portfolio are expected to shed some work, the prime minister is expected to give representation to states and regions unrepresented in the Cabinet. To undertake the process, he has been holding consultations with the Congress President Sonia Gandhi including one meeting today.

The DMK berths held by A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran were vacated in the last two years after their names cropped in the 2G scam.


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