In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken charge of the
country's new Congress-led coalition government for a second term. The swearing-in ceremony took
place in the shadow of a row with a key ally.
Minister Manmohan Singh took the oath of office at the presidential
palace in New Delhi Friday evening - nearly a week after the
Congress-led coalition won a clear mandate in general elections.
Mr. Singh, 67, is only the second prime minister in the country to be
returning to power after a full five-year term.
Cabinet ministers also took oath of office. Many of them were senior
ministers in Mr. Singh's previous government such as former foreign
minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, former
Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and former Defense Minister A.K. Antony.
of the ministers in the previous administration are expected to retain
their positions in the cabinet, especially key ones such as defense.
But India is likely to get a new foreign minister as Pranab Mukherjee
has indicated he would like to head a ministry which involves less
The number of ministers sworn in was smaller than
expected - partly because of a row with a key ally over distribution of
The Tamil Nadu-based DMK party did not join the government because it was being given fewer ministries than it asked for.
The Congress Party and the DMK have held negotiations to break the deadlock.
Reddy, a senior Congress leader who was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister,
says allies such as DMK will likely be inducted next week when more
ministers are named.
"These hiccups are inevitable, are natural,
in a democracy, and at the moment we are going in only for partial
Cabinet formation," he said. "We will soon go in for expansion. At that
some of the problems that are faced now will have been resolved."
say the Congress Party, which has won a much stronger mandate, wants to
take a firmer stand with its regional allies than it could do during
its last term, when its government was more vulnerable.
Congress-led coalition has won 262 seats - 10 seats short of a
majority. But support from other parties takes its numbers to 322, well
past the half way mark in the 543 member parliament.
expected to give Mr. Singh a relatively freer hand in implementing
policies. He has indicated that good governance and spreading the
benefits of economic growth to the country's poor will be a priority.
Singh, an economist, is widely viewed as an honest leader, capable of
steering the country through the current economic downturn. His other
challenges will be to manage relations with Pakistan at a time when the
peace process between the two countries has stalled.