South Asia

India: Seven ministers dropped in cabinet reshuffle

Manmohan Singh
Image caption Mr Singh has come under fire in recent months

Indian PM Manmohan Singh has reshuffled his cabinet, dropping seven ministers as his government grapples with corruption scandals and inflation.

While the key ministries of finance, home, defence and foreign affairs remain unchanged, six new ministers have been brought in.

This is the second cabinet reshuffle carried out by Mr Singh since January.

It is being seen as a bid to improve the government's image, which has come under attack in recent months.

One former cabinet minister is under arrest in connection with corruption investigations, another resigned last week. Both deny wrongdoing.

Last month, in a rare meeting with media editors, Mr Singh dismissed opposition criticism that he is a "lame duck" leader.

Among the ministers dropped on Tuesday is Textile Minister Dayanidhi Maran who submitted his resignation last week following allegations of involvement in a multi-billion dollar scandal over telecoms licences.

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and Sports Minister MS Gill have also been dropped.

Mr Singh has appointed Dinesh Trivedi as the new railway minister, a position which has been lying vacant since May.

Jairam Ramesh has been moved from the environment ministry to take charge of the rural development ministry. Congress party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan gets the environment portfolio.

Salman Khurshid replaces law minister Veerappa Moily, who moves to corporate affairs.

Correspondents say that a tide of anger over corruption and the increasing food inflation has strained the Congress Party's ties with its increasingly worried allies in the run-up to key state elections next year and a general election due by 2014.

Also, economic growth has slowed and critics say the government has not pushed forward key reforms.

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