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PM reshuffles Cabinet, Pranab to be Foreign minister

Last updated on: October 24, 2006 21:03 IST

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's much-awaited reshuffle of the Union Cabinet took place on Tuesday evening with senior Congress leader A K Antony on Tuesday staging a comeback into the Cabinet along with yesteryear Kannada hero M H Ambareesh and Rashtriya Janata Dal parliamentarian Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav.

Antony will take over as Defence minister from Pranab Mukherjee who has been appointed the next External Affairs minister. Yadav will take over as the MoS for Water Resources while Ambareesh has been assigned as MoS for Information and Broadcasting.

Also, Oscar Fernandes, who was minister without portfolio, has been given independent charge of Labour and Employment, while Chandra Sekhar Sahu has been moved to Rural Development from Labour as Minister of State.

The three were administered the oath of office and secrecy at a brief ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Cabinet ministers among others.

With Tuesday's induction, the strength of the Union Council of Ministers goes up to 80 with 34 Cabinet ministers, seven Ministers of State with Independent Charge and 39 Ministers of State.

This is the second such exercise being undertaken by the prime minister after the last one in January.

Called 'Mr Clean,' 65-year-old Antony, a former Kerala chief minister, returns to the Union Cabinet after a gap of over 11 years when he resigned as Civil Supplies Minister in the Narasimha Rao government.

Ambareesh, a third time parliamentarian from Mandya in Karnataka, makes a maiden entry into the Union Council of Ministers. He belongs to the dominant Vokkaliga community which has no representation at the Centre now.

Yadav, who quit under controversial circumstances in November last year, is the sole non-Congress entrant in Tuesday's exercise.

A confidante of Lalu Prasad, Yadav quit as Minister of State for Water Resources when a non-bailable warrant was issued against him for allegedly aiding the escape of his brother from police custody during the assembly elections in Bihar.

The list of new ministers was firmed up on Monday night when the prime minister held consultations in New Delhi with United Progressive Alliance chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

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