INTRODUCTION Fourteen members of Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai's cabinet were sworn into office in New Delhi, on Friday (26 March).
INTRODUCTION Fourteen members of Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai's cabinet were sworn into office in New Delhi, on Friday (26 March). But Jagjivan Ram, powerful leader of India's 80 million untouchables and an earlier contender for the Prime Minister's post stayed away from the ceremony during some confusion about his agreement to joint the Desai government. Mr Ram and Mr. Desai lead seperate parties of the Janata alliance which defeated Mrs. Indira Gandhi's Congress party.
SYNOPSIS: Eight-one-year-old Mr. Desai announced his 20-man cabinet on Friday (26 March), one week after the victory over Mrs. Indira Gandhi in the general elections. Acting President B.D. Jatti presided over the swearing-in ceremony. Mr. Chaudhary Singh, Deputy Chairman of the Janata Party was the first to be sworn in, taking the new post of Home Minister.
Mr. Desai was greeted with loud cheers as he entered the hall. One of the new appointments he made included the new Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani. The 49-year-old journalist and former editor was detained for most of the emergency imposed by Mrs. Gandhi in 1975, which lasted until the elections.
A few of the senior posts have not yet been filled, including the Defence portfolio. Mr Ram was expected to take the post, a job he handled during India's war with Pakistan in 1971. The new Communications post was given to Mr. Prakash Singh Badal, leader of the powerful Sikh Akali Dal party in the Punjab. The Sikh leader is a former chief Minister of Punjab, which supplies the Indian Army with some of its best troops.
Congress opposition leader Mr. Y.B. Chavan also attended the ceremony. Mr. Atal Vajpayee, a 50-year old former newspaper editor detained for 21 months during the emergency, becomes the new Foreign Minister.