In a much-anticipated but limited reshuffle in the Union Cabinet,P Chidambaram was today made the Finance Minister and his portfolio of Home Ministry was given to Sushilkumar Shinde.
In the exercise,necessitated by the exit of Pranab Mukherjee from the Cabinet last month,Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily was given the additional charge of Power Ministry,a portfolio held by Shinde so far.
66-year-old Chidambaram returns to the Finance Ministry after more than three-and-a-half years. He was moved from Finance Ministry to Home Ministry in place of Shivraj Patil in December 2008 in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks with the task of strengthening the country’s security.
He takes charge of the Finance Ministry at a time when the economy is witnessing sluggishness and a scare has been created among foreign investors by some decisions on tax issues.
Chidambaram will have the challenge of restoring the confidence among the foreign investors besides taming inflation and ensuring return to high economic growth.
Shinde,71-year-old former policemen and a dalit leader,will have the first tryst as the Home Minister. He has the task of dealing with the challenge posed by naxalism.
He takes over at a time when Assam has been witnessing widespread riots.
The reshuffle of portfolios had been necessitated by the exit of Pranab Mukherjee,who held the portfolio of Finance Ministry before getting elected as the President.
Mukherjee resigned as the Finance Minister on June 26 and since then the Prime Minister himself was looking after the portfolio.
The reshuffle of portfolios is seen as a precursor to a bigger rejig in the Council of Ministers possibly after the Monsoon Session ends on September 7,with Rahul Gandhi expected to be inducted.
Chidambaram’s return to the Finance Ministry was immediately welcomed by the industry which hoped that the architect of ‘dream budget’ of 1996 will put the economy on higher growth path and expedite stalled economic reforms.
Hailing from a small business community of prosperous Chettiars of Tamil Nadu,he was in the forefront of economic reforms unleashed during the P V Narasimha Rao government post-1991 and executed by Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister.
A Harvard educated lawyer,Chidambaram became the face of India’s economic reforms as the Finance Minister in 1996 during the United Front government under H D Deve Gowda.
He presented a budget that vastly slashed tax rates and contained a number of sops for the corporate sector,earning it the title of ‘dream budget’. That budget,however,could not have its full run due to the premature end of the Deve Gowda government.
He made re-entry into the Finance Ministry after the UPA was voted to power in 2004.
As Home Minister after taking over at a time when the country was recovering from the shocking Mumbai attack of 2008,Chidambaram moved swiftly setting up a mechanism to daily monitor the security situation with constant interaction with heads of para-military forces and intelligence.
Moily was given the additional charge of Power Ministry on a day the sector battled a major electricity crisis with three transmission grids — Northern,Eastern and North-eastern — collapsing and leaving half of the country in a crisis.
Today’s power failure came on the second successive day of such outages in eight states.
In his first comments after being given the additional responsibility,Moily said,”It is a very difficult and challenging situation,will have to take stock of it,will always fulfil the responsibilities given to me and will give full attention to power portfolio.”
Moily,who previously held Law and Justice Portfolio,said he will speak to his predecessor Sushilkumar Shinde and take stock of the current situation. He will also speak to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
On the charge that the failure of grids took place because some states drew extra power from Northern Grid,he said,”(I) Cannot start with blame game on states. We will have to keep in touch with the development of the country.”
“Power is a very challenging sector and I always believe in reforms…will remove bottlenecks in implementing projects in sector,” Moily said.
Shinde,former Chief Minister of Maharashtra,brings a lot of experience from his six-year stint in the police force to long years in the government and the party organisation.
Commenting on his new assignment,he said,”I am happy that the Prime Minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi gave me this responsibility. I am grateful to them.”
Shinde holds a record of presenting nine budgets in a row as the Finance Minister of Maharashtra and had also made a mark as cultural affairs minister.
He led Congress to victory in the state in 2004 Assembly polls but failed to become the Chief Minister again and was instead sent to Andhra Pradesh as Governor.
But in little over a year,Shinde was back at the national scene in January 2006 having been made the Power Minister,a portfolio he continued to hold till today.
A known loyalist of the Gandhi family,Shinde also unsuccessfully contested the Vice Presidential elections as combined opposition nominee in 2002 against Bhairon Singh Shekhawat,the candidate of the then ruling NDA.
profile: Architect of dream budget Chidambaram back in FinMin
New Delhi: Architect of “dream budget” and known for taking bold decisions,P Chidambaram is back at the helm in the Finance Ministry after a gap of nearly four years and has a formidable task on hand to lift the country out of a economic slowdown.
67-year-old Chidambaram returns to the crucial portfolio at a time when the country’s economic growth has slipped to a nine-year low of 6.5 per cent in 2011-12 and restoring confidence among foreign and domestic investors needs urgent attention.
He left the Finance Ministry to succeed Shivraj Patil as Home Minister,days after the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been holding charge of the Finance Ministry after Pranab Mukherjee quit on June 26 to contest Presidential elections.
A Harvard educated lawyer,Chidambaram became the face of India’s economic reforms when he took over as the Finance Minister in the United Front government in 1996 under H D Deve Gowda.
He presented a budget that vastly slashed tax rates and contained a number of sops for the corporate sector which was hailed as a “dream budget”. That the budget could not have its full run due to the fall of the government then,is a different story.
Hailing from a small business community of prosperous Chettiars of Tamil Nadu,Chidambaram was in the forefront of the economic reforms unleashed during the P V Narasimha Rao government post-1991 and executed by Manmohan Singh as finance minister.
He made his re-entry into the finance ministry after the UPA was voted to power in 2004 beating many other claimants to the post.
As Home Minister,Chidambaram had moved swiftly setting up a mechanism to daily monitor the security situation with constant interaction with heads of para-military forces and intelligence.
He was instrumental in gearing up the security and intelligence set-ups and brought in greater accountability to meet challenges of terrorism and insurgency.
He had earlier quit the Congress and joined the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) of G K Moopanar,who had floated the regional outfit after falling out with the Congress over aligning with AIADMK.
Chidambaram,who lost Parliamentary elections only once in 1999 on a TMC ticket,parted ways with Moopanar in 2001 when the veteran Congressman decided to align with Jayalalithaa’s AIAMDK for the 2001 Assembly elections and floated his own outfit Congress Jananayaga Peravai.
In his early part of his life,Chidambaram practiced as an advocate in the Madras High Court and later in the Supreme Court and was an adviser to several multinational companies.
Since 1984,he had been re-elected to the Lok Sabha from the same Sivaganga constituency in 1989,1991,1996,1998,2004 and in the last Parliamentary elections.