PM relies on PC to bat for him in Parliament

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 11 2008, 06:43am hrs
It may probably be a longer wait before North Block can have a new finance minister. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided to let minister P Chidambaram do the batting for him in Parliament, thereby giving himself more time to decide who can be the best candidate to handle the countrys economy in a downslide.

Sources said the Prime Minister, who at present has the finance portfolio with himself, has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, informing him that Chidambaram will answer to questions relating to finance in both houses of Parliament. Chidambaram will be the focus of attention on Thursday itself when he will, as the new home minister, initiate and reply to a debate on terrorism in the Lok Sabha.

UPA circles felt that the move by the Prime Minister effectively would have put off a reshuffle till parliament ends on December 21.

However, they admitted that there has not been any letup in the lobbying for vacant posts. The former RBI governor and Rajya Sabha MP C Rangarajan called on the Prime Minister on Wednesday, but refused to give any indication of why he met him. Former Karnataka chief minister SM Krishna, whose name tops the list of contenders for the finance portfolio, was also reported to have met the Prime Minister in the last two days. Besides these two, commerce minister Kamal Nath and science and technology minister Kapil Sibal too are believed to be interested.

However, UPA circles contend that the planning commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia could still pip others to the post, considering that the he remains the Prime Ministers favourite.