Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to divide the responsibility of heading GoMs and EGoMs among few chosen senior cabinet ministers in the absence of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Top sources in the UPA told HT that along with home minister P Chidambaram and defence minister AK Antony, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar is likely to get more responsibilities to steer Group of Ministers (GoMs) and empowered GoMs (EGoMs).Power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is also slated to lead a few GoMs. At present, he leads the GoM on power sector issues but 71-year-old Shinde is already serving 13 GoMs/EGoMs as member.
Mukherjee headed 13 of the 27 GoMs and all 12 EGoMs. While GoM decisions needs ratification by Union cabinet, the EGoM is empowered to take a final call on its agenda.
“It would not be easy for one or two ministers to head the GoMs and EGoMs that were earlier headed by Mukherjee. The work would be distributed,” said a senior minister.
Even Mukherjee felt GoMs and EGoMs formed a large part of his heavy agenda in the government. “During my earlier stints in the government, I didn’t do even one-third of the work I had to do in the UPA regime,” Mukherjee told HT on Tuesday.
Pawar—who enjoys an excellent rapport with Prime Minister and is one of the most vocal supporters of Singh’s reforms agenda—may bag two sensitive EGoMs—on 2G spectrum pricing and on under recoveries of the oil marketing companies that decides on diesel and cooking gas prices—apart from the EGoM on management of drought and a few more.
Leader of Lok Sabha: Cong in no hurry
Congress said the UPA brass may take some more time before selecting its nominee for the new Leader of Lok Sabha to replace Pranab Mukherjee. “There is still a lot of time before the next (monsoon) session starts. A new Leader of the House may be chosen before the session begins,” said a source. Chidambaram, Shinde and Kamal Nath are probables.