Finance minister and UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee is likely to chair an empowered group of ministers (EGoM) meeting on telecom on June 20, even as the government scouts for a potential successor to head over a dozen groups of ministers (GoMs) constituted to deal with various important issues.
The EGoM on telecom will decide on the minimum price at which spectrum must be allocated to various telecom players. The government, which has to file a reply in the Supreme Court by August-end, is keen on the EGoM taking a decision before Mukherjee resigns.
Mukherjee is expected to resign after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh returns from the Rio conference on June 23. After that, Singh will decide on Mukherjee's replacement as the head of various GoMs.
The FM heads ministerial groups on diverse issues, ranging from the location of the National War Memorial to telecom, coal supply and the national food security law.
According to the Cabinet Secretariat website, Mukherjee heads 12 of the 27 GoMs and 12 EGoMs. While GoM decisions needs Cabinet ratification, the EGoM is empowered to take a final call on issues.
Widely referred to as the UPA government's chief troubleshooter, Mukherjee headed the ministerial groups on most tricky issues — including corruption at various levels in the government, policy for auctioning of spectrum, under-recoveries of oil marketing companies on sale of petrol and diesel, and decisions on food export.
In most cases, the final decisions of the ministerial groups were wholeheartedly accepted by everybody in the government. That was probably the reason behind the Prime Minister nominating Mukherjee as the head of ministerial groups dealing with the most contentious issues.
When Team Anna was riding on huge wave of public support for its anti-corruption campaign, Mukherjee was asked to chair a ministerial group on tackling corruption. Most of the recommendations of the group, including the Public Procurement Bill, were accepted by the government.
Why he matters
Referred to as the Centre's chief troubleshooter, Mukherjee headed the ministerial groups on most tricky issues — including graft, spectrum auctions and food export.
He heads 12 of the 27 GoMs and 12 EGoMs on issues ranging from
telecom to coal.
Pranab was chosen to head the ministerial groups because his
recommendations were wholeheartedly accepted by the government.