Mukherjee has put in his papers to the Prime Minister, official sources confirmed.
Ahead of resigning as a Finance Minister, an emotional Mukerjee told reporters at his North Bloc office that he is leaving his job as Finance Minister to “embark on a new journey”.
“I feel honoured and humbled on my nomination as a presidential candidate of the UPA-II, supported by SP, BSP , JDU Shiv Sena, CPI-M , Forward Bloc and some other parties” Mukherjee said in his last message as Finance Minister to the media.
“Yet, standing on the brink of such an honour, I will also feel a pinch of sentiments at the thought of leaving behind my life as a political activist, spanning over four decades,” he told reporters.
Mukherjee said, while not every decision of his might have been right, but he has taken those decisions “keeping in view the interest of the people”.
Mukherjee’s resignation came amidst a gloomy economic crisis and a policy paralysis the country is passing through. India’s annual industrial growth fell to 0.1 percent in April even as the rupee slumped to an all time law of Rs 57.92 against the dollar.
The government, yesterday, announced a series of measures to revive the economy but it was too little to cheer the market. And as Pranab resigns as the Finance Minister, the question looms large is that who will replace him in the government and the ministry?
There are indications that the key ministry would be handled by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself.
Reports say the Prime Minister may run the Finance Ministry with the assistance of the two Ministers of State (MoS) Namo Narain Meena and SS Palanimanickam. A team of experts will also help the Prime Minister, reports add.
Highly placed sources in government indicate that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is not keen on giving the finance portfolio to an “outsider”. Kaushik Basu, the Prime Minister’s own economic adviser, wants Manmohan Singh to take charge of the Finance Ministry after Mukherjee demits office.
“Prime Minister is a very trained economist… He was there in the 1991 reforms … (although) it is a political decision… Who comes and goes… But one thing is for sure that he is extremely capable,” Basu had told a TV channel.
Singh, however, is keeping his cards on Pranab’s successor close to his chest, so far.
“I have been churning it in my mind. Quite honestly I have a number of issues which I have to resolve. It will not be proper for me to announce while I am outside the country. When the decision is taken, you will get to know about it,” he had told journalist.
Singh had earlier kept the charge of Finance Ministry for a short span during the UPA-I when P Chidambaram was moved to Home in the wake of Mumbai terror strikes in November 2008.