With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set to undergo heart surgery on Saturday to remove cardiac blockages,Congress sources indicated that External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will officiate in his absence.
“In the absence of Singh,Mukherjee presides over the Cabinet meetings,” a senior party leader said after the Prime Minister was admitted to AIIMS,adding what was an informal arrangement was now being made formal.
At the AICC briefing,spokesman Manish Tewari said that in the absence of the Prime Minister,there is a procedure laid down on how the affairs of the government will be carried out.
Pranab Mukherjee was given the additional charge of Finance Ministry.
A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said that Mukherjee would hold additional charge from tomorrow until the recovery of the Prime Minister from medical treatment.
“The President of India,as advised by the Prime Minister,has directed that Pranab Mukherjee,Minister of External Affairs is assigned the additional charge of Ministry of Finance from January 24,2009 until the recovery of the Prime Minsiter from medical treatment,” the communique said.
Singh was holding the Finance portfolio since last month when P Chidambaram was moved to Home Ministry in the wake of the Mumbai terror strike.
However,Chidambaram is assisting Singh in answering questions related to Finance Ministry in Parliament.
With the development,Mukherjee is expected to present the interim budget in the Lok Sabha on February 16.
A senior party leader said that this was perhaps the first time in Independent India that the Prime Minister would not be able to attend the Republic Day parade.