M A I N   N E W S

Soren back in Cabinet
PM buys peace with alliance partners
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today bought peace with his alliance partners when he effected a minor expansion and reshuffle of his Council of Ministers by reinducting JMM leader Shibu Soren and allocating the labour portfolio to TRS leader
K. Chandrashekhar Rao.

Mr Soren, who had quit the Cabinet in July after non-bailable warrants were issued against him in a 20-year-old case, was sworn in by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at a brief ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Mr Soren’s reinduction into the Cabinet had been on the cards ever since he was out on bail.

The swearing-in ceremony was attended by a sprinkling of Cabinet ministers while the opposition was conspicous by its absence.

Although he has regained his place in the Cabinet, Mr Soren’s original portfolios have been bifurcated this time. He has got back the Coal Ministry but the Mines Ministry has been allocated to Mr Sis Ram Ola, who has been moved from the Labour Ministry to make way for Mr Chandrashekar Rao.

It had become virtually imperative for the Prime Minister to accommodate Mr Soren and allocate a ministry to the TRS leader, who had been a minister without portfolio for six-month now. It was necesssary for the Prime Minister to move in fast following reports that that the Sharad Pawar-led NCP has been contacting non-Congress allies to form a pressure group within the UPA.

The delay in his reinduction had upset Mr Soren, who had conveyed his unhappiness to senior UPA leaders. The Congress could hardly afford to antagonise the JMM leader given that Assembly elections in Jharkhand are due next February. On the other hand, Congress strategists were keen that Mr Soren be given a Cabinet berth as it will give them an edge when talks on seat-sharing get underway and help the Congress pitch for the Chief Minister’s post.

Besides Mr Soren, there was an urgency to allocate work to Mr Chandrashekar Rao of the TRS as he had been showing signs of impatience at being denied a portfolio for so long. Mr Rao’s unhappiness was manifest in his public utterances on his longstanding demand for a separate state of Telengana. The decision to constitute a UPA sub-committee on Telengana is also meant to placate Mr Rao.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters after the swearing-in, the Prime Minister justified the JMM leader’s reinduction in the Cabinet, saying, “the reasons for which Mr Soren left the Cabinet do not exist now.”

JMM urges EC to check state govt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27
Although Assembly elections in Jharkhand are couple of months away the political mudslinging has started with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha accusing the ruling BJP government of printing ration cards, notebooks, match boxes with the photograph of the Chief Minister Arjun Munda and party symbol, lotus.

In a complaint to the Election Commission, the JMM said the poll panel should take note of the “unethical and populist” decisions of the government for electoral gains in the Assembly elections to be held in February.” The complaint urged the panel to take appropriate measures to curb populist measures taken at the time of elections to solicit votes.

It said the BJP had made a lot of hue and cry during the elections in Chattisgarh over the school bags carrying the photo of then Chief Minister Ajit Jogi. It also reminded the commission of the action it had taken in the case of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s photo appearing at major intersections on national highways during the last Lok Sabha elections.Back

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