Wednesday, April 29, 2009

North Block officials speculate on who would be the next Finance Minister

The officials of the ministry of finance in India have begun speculating on who would be the next finance minister as they have started the process of preparing the general Budget to be presented by the next government in June, 2009. Kapil Sibal from the Congress party could be a major contender to be the finance minister if the Congress comes back to power. Finmin officials, who all worked under P Chidambaram in most part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, were sure that the current home minister would get no chance to stage a comeback to Finmin even if the Congress manages a similar mandate as in 2004. Also, Pranab Mukherjee, current incumbent, is unlikely to be the full-fledged finance minister as he would take up either external or defence portfolio, officials felt. However, if the BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) forms the next government, the general feeling in the North Block is that the party's old hat Yaswant Sinha, who is contesting from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand, would present the next Budget. Another BJP veteran Jaswant Singh, who is fighting an electoral battle from Darjeeling constituency in West Bengal, could also be a contender. Yet, no babu in North Block could hazard a guess who would be the country's finance minister if BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) supremo Mayawati turns lucky to occupy 7, Race Course Road, the official residence of the Prime Minister of India. But yes, Finmin's experienced team of preparing Budget are already getting nervous if Ms Mayawati appoints a Left veteran, say Sitaram Yechurry, as the country's next finance minister!

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