In a move that could create space for Rahul Gandhi to make an appearance in the government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will reportedly give up the Finance Minister’s portfolio to P Chidambaram and replace him as Home Minister with Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.
According to an Indian Express report, Chidambaram, who was Finance Minister between 2004 and 2008, will take over as early as Wednesday and will be replaced at the Home Ministry by Shinde, who could also become the Leader of the UPA in the Lok Sabha.
Chidambaram’s appointment will not come without its share of controversy. The Home Minister had been targeted throughout the previous session of Parliament by the opposition over allegations that he and his son had received kickbacks in the Aircel-Maxis telecommunications deal.
While Chidambaram has denied the allegations and has been backed by the government, his appointment as Finance Minister ahead of the Monsoon Session could provide a golden opportunity for the opposition to target him again.
While the juggling of the two ministries between Chidambaram and Shinde could leave the power portfolio up for grabs, the juggle in ministries could also free a position for Rahul Gandhi, who has been set to take on greater responsibilities in the party for some time now.
The Indian Express report says he could become a Congress party General Secretary (Organisation) that gives him control over the party’s units across the country, while another report spoke of how leaders who worked under him in the Youth Congress were being shifted to give them more prominent roles in the states, in preparation for him taking on a bigger role in the party.
Gandhi has maintained that it would be up to the party leadership to decide what role he should play in the Congress, but he is reportedly still not keen on entering the government yet. Come tomorrow however, he could be holding a ministerial portfolio.