The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sinha caveat on ministry squabbles

New Delhi, Nov. 27: The squabbling in the foreign ministry has not gone down well with external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha.

Sinha has made it clear that the ministry looks much more “cohesive” from outside, according to Shashank who takes over as foreign secretary after Kanwal Sibal retires at the end of this month.

At a farewell get-together for Sibal this evening at the ministry, Shashank told his colleagues that he was conveying a message from the external affairs minister that the foreign ministry looked much more “cohesive from outside than it was from inside”.

Some officials present at the farewell tried to play down the statement by saying that Sinha’s remarks were aimed at making the ministry more cohesive and prompt officials to strive for improvement.

However, the minister’s observation comes when reports on the rivalry between Sibal and his successor for the coveted post have been coming out in the media at regular intervals. Several other reports about Indian diplomats have also caused a lot of embarrassment to the ministry.

But Sibal, who according to many led from the front and has been a successful foreign secretary, clarified that being head of the service not only meant directing the country’s foreign policy, but also involved running the ministry with an iron hand.

“I am passing on the baton to Shashank, which is meant not only for giving directions to our policies but also to be wielded as a stick,” was the last piece of advice Sibal had for his successor.

Shashank, who takes over from December 1, has till July 31 to run the ministry.

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