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|October 13, 1999||
Fernandes blamed for Hegde's exclusion
Union Commerce Minister and senior Janata Dal-United leader Ramakrishna Hegde and Union Industry Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sikander Bakht have been dropped from the new Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
Discontent seems to be brewing within the Janata Dal-United over the exclusion of its senior party leader Ramakrishna Hegde from the Cabinet.
Supporters of the outgoing commerce minister laid the blame on JD-U parliamentary party leader and Defence Minister George Fernandes by averring that Hegde was not even consulted before the list was forwarded to the prime minister.
Even Hegde indirectly confirmed the charge when he told a private channel that he would have volunteered out of the Cabinet if informed by Fernandes.
Party sources said they would not find fault with the prime minister or the Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party unit because they had no role at all in denying or including any name. The responsibility solely lied with the JD-U and Fernandes, they said.
The sources said Hegde had been 'penalised' for no fault of his and it would certainly have an adverse impact on Karnataka.
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Surjit Singh Barnala and Tamizhaga Rajiv Congress leader V Ramamurthy, who lost in the recent Lok Sabha election, were the obvious omissions from the National Democratic Alliance Cabinet.
Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Bannerjee, former Maharashtra chief minister and Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi, Dravida Munnetra Kazagham leaders Murasoli Maran and T R Balu, JD-U leaders Ram Vilas Paswan and Sharad Yadav and BJP leaders Shanta Kumar, Sunderlal Patwa, Ram Naik and Juel Oram are the new faces among the Cabinet ministers.
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