Monday, 17 June 2013

PM revamps Cabinet as UPA readies for polls

AFP

NEW DELHI

India's embattled ruling Congress Party aligned on Monday for next year's elections with a Cabinet facelift, enhanced by a bitter split over the height of a Hindu Development Institute in the opposition.

Four veteran Congress politicians were in the closet, sworn in as the party prepared for a tough fight to try to win a third term in Office amid a series of graft scandals, policy malaise and the slowest economic growth in a decade.

Four other party loyalists was junior posts in the three-tier Ministerial Council headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Government officials said portfolios of the eight new ministers would be announced later.

A previous railways Minister resigned over accusations his cousin took a $ 160,000 bribe by a public official in Exchange for a plum post in the State-run network.

His successor also served in his pieces together with the Minister of sport for Monday in the cabinet reshuffle.

The press trust of India (PTI) quoted Singh as saying that his Government headed by the Congress United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was confident of a hat-trick in the 2014 polls.

' Is there a third go as UPA and people will again rest their faith in us, "said the premier.

PTI said Singh also hoped that Rahul Gandhi, Scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, the UPA Coalition administration would lead. "I will be very happy to see him step in my shoes ...I hope he will cause the Alliance UPA, "he added.

His comments came a day after the Congress of the left her campaign Committee, with members picked from a wide range of areas across the country revealed.

But in a new blow to the Government, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left its key lending rate unchanged, underscoring the challenges it faces as it tries to kickstart business investment and stimulate the economy.

The RBI kept rates steady, say that the sharp fall in the local currency can negatively impact already high inflation in Asia's third largest economy. "The central bank has pushed the ball back in the Court Government to promote reforms," said Siddhartha Sanyal, Chief India economist with Barclays Capital.

In further concern about the State of the economy, new figures show India's trade deficit widening, as imports of gold continue to rise, while exports dropped.

The UPA government has pursued by a string of corruption scandals that have derailed efforts to push through promised reforms, curb pro-market current account deficit and recovery of the economy.

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