Saturday, May 24, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Ramachandran, Ajit Singh quit Cabinet
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 23
On the eve of impending Cabinet reshuffle, the Union Minister of State for Finance, Mr Gingee N. Ramachandran, and the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Ajit Singh, resigned from the government.

While Mr Ramachandran quit the Vajpayee ministry in the wake of the arrest of his personal assistant (PA) Perumal Swamy for allegedly accepting bribe for transferring an Income Tax official, Mr Ajit Singh quit amidst tremendous pressure from the BJP and a word from the Prime Minister’s Office to put in his papers lest he will be dropped.

Mr Ramachandran, who was reluctant to put in his papers sent his resignation to the Prime Minister ahead of a high-level meeting chaired by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee at his residence here.

The Union Minister resigned after he was asked from the highest level to quit as it was felt that his continuance in the Cabinet will severely dent the image of the NDA government following the CBI action against the PA and the arrest of the official who sought his help in getting the transfer.

As far Mr Ajit Singh was concerned, there had been talks about dropping him from the Cabinet for his ‘open differences’ with the government concerning his ministry. Efforts to get in touch with Mr Ajit Singh to get his comments went in vain.

The meeting, chaired by Mr Vajpayee, was on till late this evening to finalise the contours of tomorrow’s Cabinet reshuffle. The meeting was being attended by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, the NDA Convener, Mr George Fernandes, the BJP President, Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu, and the Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh.

Mr Fernandes, who was in Chennai and reportedly had a meeting with jailed MDMK Chief Vaiko, has been specially summoned for the meeting by the Prime Minister to know about the mind of Vaiko, sources said.

Mr Ramachandran, who arrived here this morning from Chennai, had ruled out his resignation on moral grounds saying “my conscience is clear”.

Mr C. Krishnan is the only representative now available with the MDMK for being made a minister. Mr Krishnan is a first-time MP.

The Cabinet reshuffle-cum-expansion tomorrow assumes great significance in the wake of the Ramachandran issue and the likely inclusion of representatives of alliance parties and some new faces.

Earlier in the day, Mr Venkaiah Naidu condemned the involvement of the PA in the graft case and maintained that: “Mr Ramachandran should himself decide on the issue of his continuance in the government”.

“It is unfortunate and shocking. Such interference in the transfers and postings by minister’s staff is highly condemnable,” Mr Naidu said.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |