Chidambaram gets finance again, Shinde becomes home minister (Lead)

July 31st, 2012 - 10:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) In a significant change ahead of parliament’s monsoon session, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed P. Chidambaram as finance minister, gave the crucial home portfolio to Sushilkumar Shinde and added power ministry to the responsibilities of Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerapa Moily.

The limited reshuffle of portfolios left open an opportunity for bigger changes after the monsoon session that would also decide if Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi assumes a role in the government.

A reshuffle of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) is also being contemplated, party leaders said.

Chidambaram, who earlier in the day addressed a press conference as home minister, was widely seen in the Congress circles as replacement for Pranab Mukherjee after his election as the country’s president.

Chidambaram had assumed charge of home ministry when it was drawing flak over internal security situation in the country. He faces a challenging task as finance minister in the wake of slowdown in the country’s GDP growth, declining value of rupee, concerns over fiscal deficit and global economic uncertainty.

Chidambaram, a Congress MP from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu, was finance minister in the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government (2004-09) till 2008, when he took over home from Shivraj Patil in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai attack.

Shinde, who was power minister before taking over home, is considered a loyalist of the Nehru-Gandhi family. His new appointment came even as power ministry was facing widespread criticism over breakdown of northern grid for two successive days resulting in crippling power outages in several states.

Congress sources said Shinde’s appointment as home minister was an indication that he could be appointed as Leader of the House in Lok Sabha to replace of Mukherjee.

A low-profile politician, Shinde belongs to the Dalit community and his elevation to a crucial portfolio is likely to be leveraged by Congress leaders for political gains in the forthcoming elections.

An MP from Solapur in Maharashtra, Shinde has served as a chief minister of the state.

Moily, who was law minister in the UPA-II government before being moved to Corporate Affairs, is considered a hands-on leader with a grip on facts and figures.

The announcements of portfolios was made in a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique Tuesday.

“The president, as advised by the prime minister, has directed that the portfolios of the following ministers will be re-allocated as follows - P. Chidambaram Finance, Sushilkumar Shinde Home Affairs,” the statement said.

“Further, as advised by the prime minister, the president has also directed that M. Veerappa Moily, Minister of Corporate Affairs, will be assigned additional charge of the ministry of power,” the statement added.

Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said that reshuffle was prime minister’s prerogative and changes have been effected as there was vacancy in the finance ministry after Mukherjee’s election as president.

Congress sources said “a major reshuffle” could take place after the monsoon session.

“It may be followed or preceded by a AICC reshuffle,” a party leader said.

Rahul Gandhi had earlier this month indicated that he was ready for a bigger role in the party and the government but left the timing to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the prime minister.

Congress leader Digvijay Singh had said earlier that Rahul Gandhi will assume a bigger role by September.

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