New Delhi: With clear indications that UPA is keen on sending Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, intense speculation has begun on who would occupy his chair in North Block.
News reports claimed on Friday that Pranab Mukherjee will resign as Finance minister on June 24, prior to filing his nomination for the presidential polls.
It follows that many are keen to assume the responsibility of steering India out of choppy economic waters.
Among the names said to be in contention are that of former finance minister and current Home Minister P Chidambaram, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and PM’s economic advisor C Rangarajan.
Wild card entries are that of commerce minister Anand Sharma and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh.
The obvious choice would have been Chidambaram, given his experience in the field, but the popular view supports his continuation as Home Minister, owing to his reasonable success in the hot seat after the faux pas of Shivraj Patil.
Montek and Rangarajan are good candidates and are being talked about as the ‘need of the hour’. The economy is in a terrible mess and a trained economist as FM would be of help.
But there undoing appears to be their lack of political experience. They may have complete support of the Prime Minister, but that may not be enough for their elevation.
Sharma and Jairam are close to 10 Janpath but are far behind in the race at the moment.
By all indications, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could choose to retain the additional charge of Finance portfolio for the rest of UPA-II’s tenure.
He is someone ‘who has been there and done that’ and would easily fit into the role. Moreover, his experience would be put to good use when the world is talking about double dip depression, which threatens to push India into a slowdown mode.
Manmohan Singh was the hero of 1991, now could be the time for him to repeat the magic.