Prime Minister Morarji Desai won his first battle as India's new leader today, gaining agreement among the diverse sections of his governing alliance on a new Cabinet, including his major opponent for the top position, Jagjivan Ram.
An official statement said Ram, 68, the leader of India's 80 million Untouchables is among 19 members of Desal's Cabinet, although the assignments were not announced.
Sixteen of the 19 are from Desai's People Party, wich holds 270 sceats in the 542-seat Parliament. Two, Ram and H. N. Bahugans, are from the Congress for Democracy and one is from the small Sikh party that is influential in the Punjab.
There were fears early in the day that the ruling alliance was on the verge of a major split as Desai tried to balance interests both among parties and within his own People's Party, which was formed from four non-Communist parties only two months ago to oppose former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
While Desai's own party is within two votes of a majority in Parliament on its own - and some observers believe it could gain a majority by wooling independents to join the party - Desal appeared to be trying to keep together the alliance that opposed Gandhi in the election.
Ram reportedly was upset by the way in which Desai was chosen as prime minister. Instead of holding a formal vote, two highly respected Indian leaders - Jayaprakash Narayan and J.B. Kripilan. - made the selection by consensus after canvassing the newly elected members of Parliament.
Narayan, the ailing spiritual leader of the crusade against Gandhi and her assumption of emergency powers, was flown to a hospital in Bombay today for treatment of his chronic kidney condition.
An Indian air force jet rushed the 74-year-old follower of the late Mahatma Gandi from Delhi to Bombay after a blocked vein in his leg prevented administration of the dialysis treatment that keeps him alive.
Included in the new Cabinet are Charan Singh, powerful leader of farmer-based Indian People's Party; L. K. Advani, general secretary of the Hindu nationalist Jan Sangh, and George Fernandez, 46, leader of the Socialist Party, who was in jail until earlier this week on charges of trying to overthrow the government by violence.
Fernandes won a seat in Parliament by almost 300,000 votes despite the fact that the government did not release him from jail to campaign.