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Gandhi Shuffles Cabinet, Shifts Foreign Minister

October 23, 1986|United Press International

NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi reshuffled his Cabinet on Wednesday for the second time this year, changing his foreign minister and selecting seven new members.

Gandhi also dropped his cousin, influential Internal Security Minister Arun Nehru, from the Cabinet, and moved to appease dissidents in his Congress-I party by shifting controversial party Vice President Arjun Singh to the less powerful post of communications minister.

Nehru was replaced as head of the Internal Security Ministry by P. Chidambaram, a Home Ministry official.

Gandhi, who became prime minister two years ago on the death of his mother and predecessor, Indira, dropped five ministers and inducted a total of seven new members into his Cabinet.

New Foreign Minister

Named minister of external affairs was Narayan Dutt Tiwari, a Gandhi confidant who also served in Indira Gandhi's Cabinet. Tiwari replaces P. Shiv Shankar, who kept his other post, the Commerce Ministry. Shankar had been appointed external affairs minister on a temporary basis in May in Gandhi's first Cabinet reshuffle this year.

Apparently heeding criticism by dissidents in his party, the prime minister abolished the position of party vice president and moved Arjun Singh, a Gandhi confidant, from the powerful post and into the government as communications minister, a portfolio formerly handled by a junior minister.

Singh has come under attack for ignoring senior party members in consultations and for allegedly misleading Gandhi on party matters.

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