Friday, September 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Atal briefs President on US tour
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Sept 21 — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee calling on President K. R. Narayanan here today fuelled speculation that an expansion-cum-reshuffle of the Cabinet was round the corner.

However, the issue of the proposed Cabinet reshuffle did not figure in the 45-minute meeting.

“There is no indication as of now that the Prime Minister has applied his mind to this exercise which is definitely on the cards,” according to highly placed sources.

They emphasised that Mr Vajpayee met Mr Narayanan and apprised him in detail about his 13 day visit to the United States of America.

Even as lobbying continued for berths in Mr Vajpayee’s Council of Ministers, it is giving anxious moments to the BJP aspirants who are sitting near their telephones waiting for that all important call from the Prime Minister’s office.

The slots that have fallen vacant lately are mostly from the BJP. These encompass the first Dalit president of the BJP Bangaru Laxman, who was Union Minister of State for Railways. Then there is the vacancy created by death of Rangarajan Kumaramangalam last month. Mr Kumaramangalam held the Power portfolio.

Firebrand Uma Bharti also put in her papers from the Union Council of Ministers purportedly to involve herself in strengthening the BJP. The Union Law and Justice Minister Ram Jethmalani, as an independent MP, had to make an ignominious exit because of coming into conflict with the judiciary.

While Mr Vajpayee decided to oversee power along with a host of other ministries, several other ministers have been temporarily given additional charge of portfolios for which fresh faces have to be inducted. 


Indian troops to leave S. Leone

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 21 (AP) — In a surprise move, India has announced that it plans to withdraw its entire 3,000-strong contingent from the 13,000-member UN peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone.

India’s UN Mission denied that criticism of the mission it headed or disputes between the Indian force commander and his Nigerian subordinates and other officials played any part in the decision to withdraw.

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