Proving to be the most flexible senior member of Dr. Manmohan Singh’s cabinet, Bengali lawyer Pranab Mukherjee will take charge of the Finance Ministry, handing over his prior role of Foreign Minister to SM Krishna. Mukherjee has also held the position of Defence Minister from 2004 to 2006. In both his prior roles, Mukherjee has had plenty of exposure to high-profile interaction with the United States and the West in general relating to the signing of the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, to the inroads made by American prime contractors in supplying weapons and technlogy to India’s armed forces and in general on increasing alignment between India and the West. Mukherjee’s political career began in the 1960’s and the 73-year-old has held many positions in government and in party leadership over the years.
The other candidate for the Finance Minister position, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, was apparently rule out by Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi, who preferred an elected official for this role, rather than an appointee who is not a politician.
By all accounts, Mukherjee should prove to be a strong and directed Finance Minister. One of his first tasks at hand is to present a final budget for the current fiscal year