New Indian cabinet in trouble from the start

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s new cabinet braced for trouble today after an allied coalition party asked its ministers not to start working until it gets the appointments it says it was promised.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s new cabinet braced for trouble today after an allied coalition party asked its ministers not to start working until it gets the appointments it says it was promised.

After a long spell of wrangling within his multiparty coalition, Singh announced ministry postings, including that of Palaniappan Chidambaram – a lawyer who went to Harvard Business School – as finance minister. The appointment cheered the stock markets.

But the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, or DMK, a regional party from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, was holding out for more portfolios, and more important ones. It was given three cabinet posts and four junior minister slots last night.

“Some days ago, certain portfolios were promised for DMK MPs and a letter to this effect was given,” said party leader M Karunanidhi as saying. “But the portfolios announced went contrary to the assurances.”

He said his cabinet ministers would not assume office until ”the mistakes are rectified.”

The Congress party said the differences shouldn’t be seen as major problems.

“These are minor creases which need to be ironed out,” said party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi.

Because Congress had failed to gain an outright majority in the 545 seat parliament, it must rely on its allies – including two powerful communist parties outside the government – to remain in power.

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