NEW DELHI, Aug 1 (Agencies): After a 1,370-day stint, Union home minister P Chidambaram is back as finance minister. Ever since he took over the ‘thankless job’ of being home minister after Shivraj Patil quit in the wake of the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai, Chidambaram had been counting his days.
Chidambaram’s successor is Sushilkumar Shinde, another senior politician from Maharashtra. He has been moved out of the power ministry. Corporate affairs minister Veerappa Moily has been allocated additional charge of the power ministry.
“There was a gap created by Pranabda’s resignation. The prime minister has filled the gap and because of the consequential vacancy, a new home minister has been appointed,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said. The reshuffle was unavoidable for PM Manmohan Singh as the monsoon session of the Parliament is scheduled to begin from August 7.
Apparently, Singh was not eager to face Parliament as finance minister and answer questions from members. “The finance minister’s job needs full attention and this change before the session was unavoidable,” said a senior Congress functionary.
Shinde, 71, is a Dalit politician and was former CM of Maharashtra as well as governor. His rise to the highest rank in the home ministry from his initial beginnings as sub-inspector in Maharashtra is an impressive saga of progressive success.
He is also tipped to take over as leader of the Lok Sabha. A formal announcement in this regard is expected before the monsoon session begins. This is despite a demand from 10 Congress MPs to make Rahul Gandhi the leader of Lok Sabha. “Since he is not likely to join the cabinet, Rahul cannot be expected to play this role,” the Congress functionary said.
Shinde appeared to be the second choice for the home minister’s job. Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit was the front-runner, but difficulties in finding a replacement for her and getting her elected to Parliament within six months made the Congress opt for Shinde.