Defence Minister A. K. Antony (seated, L-R), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
Congress party chief Sonia...
REUTERS - Prime Minister-elect Manmohan Singh will be sworn in for a second term
on Friday after the election victory of his Congress party-led coalition, which
has since won the support of enough lawmakers for a parliamentary majority.
The following is a round-up, based on local media reports and Congress party
officials' comments, of politicians likely to head key ministries.
Sources say Pranab Mukherjee, who was foreign minister in previous coalition,
is the frontrunner for the job of finance minister. Mukherjee had been looking
after finance since January when Prime Minister Singh underwent heart surgery.
Mukherjee is seen as a stable hand and shrewd political operator. He has a
history of pushing reforms, including signing up to a WTO agreement giving
nations more access to global trade in 1994 when he was commerce minister.
But, with India facing its slowest growth in six years and a yawning fiscal
deficit, Singh, himself a reform-minded former finance minister, could bring in
Names cited include Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning
Commission, and C. Rangarajan, a former central bank governor and an economic
adviser to the prime minister.
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
Kamal Nath, who has played a key role as a negotiator for emerging nations in
the struggling Doha round of global trade talks, may stay on as commerce and
But Nath also could be named foreign minister, some TV channels said, and
Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal could replace him in trade.
India's pro-farmer stand in the Doha round is unlikely to change
significantly. But under Nath, India may be more inclined to offer concessions
in opening up its market to foreign participation after leftist influence in
government has ended.
One contender could be Sibal, a reform-minded politician with a suave image
that could go down well in foreign capitals.
Some media say senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid may also be considered.
The Oxford-educated Khurshid was junior foreign minister from 1993-1996.
Palaniappan Chidambaram may stay. He is seen as having successfully revamped
India's security apparatus after last November's Mumbai attacks.
A.K. Antony, seen as an honest politician and another safe pair of hands with
billions of dollars of arms deals in the pipeline, could keep his post.
TELECOMS & IT
Reform-minded Dayanidhi Maran and Andimuthu Raja, former telecoms ministers
in the last government and both from key Congress party ally DMK, remain the top
contenders for this post.
But the DMK is now embroiled in a row with Congress over ministerial
positions, and has said it may extend only outside support to the coalition. The
threat, however, is expected to be shortlived.
Maran carried out reforms when he was telecoms minister in the last Congress
government and now faces the difficult task of a multi-billion dollar auction of
third-generation spectrum that will allow users to have fast Internet on their
mobile phones. The auction was to be in January but has been delayed.
INFORMATION & BROADCASTING
Local reports suggest Rahul Gandhi, heir-apparent of the Congress party, may
be offered this position, regarded as a stepping stone for a man seen as a
future prime minister.
The portfolio has added importance with the government expected to raise the
foreign investment limit in the print media to 49 percent from the current 26