New Delhi, Dec 1 : Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said on Monday that he would like to see a Congress Finance Minister as his permanent successor as the country's economy has flourished under a Congress Finance Minister.
He was speaking to reporters in New Delhi today before taking the charge of the Home Ministry, after the resignation of incumbent Shivraj Patil in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.
"I would like if there would be a Congress Finance Minister as long as possible, ..no, no I said that I would like a Congress Finance Minister. It is only with a Congress Finance Minister this country has recorded a high growth in the past," said Chidambaram.
Indications that Chidambaram would be given the new responsibility came on Sunday when he was called as a special invitee to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and before that he met Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in the morning to discuss the situation arising out of the Mumbai terror attacks.
"When the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) conveyed this decision to me. I would be less than honest if I would say that I was disinclined, but in a situation the one in which we find ourselves, the final call is taken by the party leader, in my case the Congress President (Sonia Gandhi) and the Prime Minister, I therefore, answered the call of the duty and I would move this afternoon to the Ministry of Home Affairs," said Chidambaram.
Widely criticised after a series of earlier bombings, Patil resigned on Sunday, the day after commandos ended a three-day rampage in Mumbai, which killed nearly 200 people and triggered anger across the country.
According to a communiqu issued by the President's office, Finance portfolio would be looked after by the Prime Minister, himself an economist of repute. There were no further details.
Singh had held the Finance portfolio for five years under the late prime minister P. V. Narasimha Rao and pushed Indian economy towards market reforms.
India's economy witnessed sizzling growth in the past four years, averaging nearly nine per cent, but expansion is expected to slow to around seven per cent in the current financial year to March 2009.
Chidambaram, who had strongly pushed a pro-growth agenda, faced huge challenges this fiscal year as inflation soared to nearly 13 per cent in early August, driven up by surging prices of commodities and oil.
A few months later, the global financial crisis hit the Indian economy and forced policymakers to slash interest rates and banks' reserve requirements to protect growth.
Manmohan Singh, heading the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government, will hold the additional charge of Finance ministry at a time when the country is suffering from the ripple effects of the global recession.
"There is unfinished work in this ministry too especially in this difficult year. The whole country is extremely reassured, and speaking personally I am more than reassured by the fact that the Prime Minister has decided to keep the portfolio to himself. I am at least for the time being I am told. We have in Dr. Manmohan Singh, a former governor of Reserve Bank of India, a former deputy Planning Commissioner and a former Finance Minister," said Chidambaram.
A Harvard-educated MBA and an eminent lawyer, Chidambaram, 63, who had a stint as Minister of Internal Security under late Rajiv Gandhi in late 1980s, brings to Home Ministry his vast experience as a political administrator he had gained during his various stints in the Central government beginning with Deputy Minister of Personnel and Training in 1985.
With the impact of the worst ever terror attack in India weighing heavy on the minds of people, the job for Chidambaram is cut as Home Minister to eradicate the menace of terrorism from Indian soil.
Sources said the government is contemplating to raise the National Security Guard (NSG) at the State level too to fight terrorism. They said to begin with the special forces will be raised in metro cities, followed by the State capitals.