Indian PM reshuffles cabinet

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The Independent Online
New Delhi (Reuter) - The Indian Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, brought four experienced men into his cabinet yesterday, reshaping his government to tackle one of the country's worst crises.

Mr Rao said he had dropped 14 of his 54 ministers, who handed in their resignations en masse on Saturday, but would not say who they were until President Shankar Dayal Sharma accepted the resignations.

Back in the cabinet are the former finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, the former commerce minister, Dinesh Singh, and the ex- finance commission head, N K P Salve, all strong supporters of radical economic reforms Mr Rao instituted on taking power in June 1991. Missing at the swearing-in was Mr Rao's main Congress Party rival, the Human Resources Development Minister, Arjun Singh.

Mr Rao revamped his ministerial line-up after weeks of criticism following the destruction of a mosque by Hindu zealots that unleashed religious violence in which some 1,700 people have died. Mr Rao, criticised as indecisive and weak, promised a strong campaign to support the secular constitution against a rapidly rising tide of Hindu nationalism.