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New external affairs minister unlikely this week

india Updated: Sep 21, 2006 17:55 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is unlikely to have a new External Affairs Minister this week as promised by him recently during his trip abroad.

Last week, he had said he would have a full-fledged Minister to handle foreign affairs soon after he returns home.

With the Prime Minister participating in the Congress Chief Ministers' conclave at Nainital from Sept 23, swearing in of a new minister, if any, could be possible only between September 25 and 30 as he would then be leaving for a brief visit to South Africa.

Senior Congress leader, Karan Singh, whose name prominently figures as the new External Affairs Minister, is reportedly disinclined to take up the job. He prefers the top constitutional post of President which is falling vacant middle of next year, political sources said.

Singh wants his candidature for presidentship to be announced early because he feels Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had already started a subtle campaign for the post, sources said.

As regards Maharashtra Governor SM Krishna, there has been no consensus on his name and a section in the Congress in Karnataka is strongly against him.

Sources discounted the possibility of a Deputy Prime Minister as also moving Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee to External Affairs. They said the Prime Minister has been relying on Mukherjee in several domestic matters and he has been heading dozens of Group of Ministers on key issues.

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