NEW DELHI, July 19, Reuter: Prime Minister RaJiv Gandhi expelled his leading political critic from the Congress (I) Party today because he feared rebellion against his leadership, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

V.P. Singh, a respected former Minister campaigning for a cleanup of the political establishment, is the eighth prominent political figure who has been expelled by Gandhi or resigned since Wednesday. The agency quoted Congress

General Secretary G.K. Moopanar as saying Singh had been dismissed for “anti-Party activities”. Singh, the best known Congress rebel and the focus of anti-Gandhi sentiment in the Party, was forced to resign as Defense Minister in April after ordering an inquiry into alleged payoffs on a submarine deal with a West German firm. He offered to resign on Thursday from the Party and the Raja Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) after Gandhi expelled three other leading Congress dissidents, all former ministers, including his cousin Arun Nehru. Gandhi refused Singh’s resignation, saying the ex-Minister had tried to impose conditions for his departure.

The expulsion 48 hours later followed last night’s resignation of Arun Singh, a junior Defense Minister and Gandhi confidant. Arun Singh was the third prominent politician to resign from the Cabinet or Parliament this week.

 Gandhi’s childhood friend and India’s highest paid movie star Amitabh Bachhan resigned from Parliament on Friday after months of press and opposition allegations of financial wrongdoing.

The senior Moslem Cabinet Member, Tourism Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, quit last week saying the government was. failing to tackle the problem of communal violence between Moslems and Hindus which has claimed hundreds of lives in rioting in the past two years.

No official reason was given for Arun Singh’s resignation but newspapers reported he was unhappy with Gandhi’s handling of a scandal over kickbacks on a 1.3 billion dollar purchase of Howitzers for the Indian army from Bofors of Sweden.

The Bofors scandal and the allegations against Bachhan have severely jolted Gandhi’s government and his party which has suffered a string of defeats this year in State elections.

Article extracted from this publication >>  July 24, 1987