After a little over a month as Finance Minister, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today gave up the Finance Minister's portfolio to P Chidambaram. Replacing Chidambaram as Home Minister will be Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.
Chidambaram, who was Finance Minister between 2004 and 2008, was recommended as the next Finance Minister by the Prime Minister in a letter to the President today. Shinde, who will take over as the Home Minister could also become the Leader of the UPA in the Lok Sabha.
Chidambaram's appointment will not come without its share of controversy. The Home Minister had been targeted throughout the previous session of Parliament by the opposition over allegations that he and his son had received kickbacks in the Aircel-Maxis telecommunications deal.
While Chidambaram has denied the allegations and has been backed by the government, his appointment as Finance Minister ahead of the Monsoon Session could provide a golden opportunity for the opposition to target him again.
Law and Justice Minister Veerappa Moily has been given additional charge of Power Ministry and will have to deal with the grid failures that the national capital has been facing over the last two days.
While some reports had speculated on the emergence of Rahul Gandhi as a Minister, some had speculated he could become the Congress party General Secretary (Organisation) which would give him control over the party's units across the country. One report spoke of how leaders who worked under him in the Youth Congress were being shifted to give them more prominent roles in the states, in preparation for him taking on a bigger role in the party.
However, Gandhi's name was not mentioned in the change of ministers.
Gandhi has maintained that it would be up to the party leadership to decide what role he should play in the Congress, but he is reportedly still not keen on entering the government yet. Come tomorrow however, he could be holding a ministerial portfolio.
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