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Pranab returns to MEA after a decade

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Oct 24 (UNI) The coveted External Affairs portfolio is not new to him.

Veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee returns to the Foreign Officce, after more than a decade to give a new direction to the country's foreign policy in the fast changing geo-political situation in the world.

Hitherto the Defence Minister and the virtual number two in the Manmohan Singh cabinet, Mr Mukherjee is heading a number of Group of Ministers (GOMs) on various issues such as Telengana, OBC Reservations and so on. He is also the Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha and heads the West Bengal PCC since August 2000.

There is not a single economic Ministry whose charge he has not held but he made a mark as the Finance Minister and attained the position of number two in Indira Gandhi's Cabinet. He was groomed in the government by Mr C Subramaniam, the man responsible for India's 'Green Revolution.' Starting his parliamentary career in 1969, when he was first elected to the Rajya Sabha, Mr Mukherjee was appointed Deputy Minister for Industrial Development in February 1973, and subsequently was shifted to Shipping and Transport in the same capacity. He was appointed Minister of State for Finance in October 1974.

Re-elected to the Rajya Sabha in July 1975, he served as Minister for Revenue and Banking in the Finance Ministry till the 1977 elections. Mr Mukherjee was made a member of the Congress Working Committee in 1978, serving till 1986 and then has been a member of the body since 1997.

When the Congress came back to power in 1980, Mr Mukherjee was appointed Minister of Commerce and Steel and Mines, and also served as the Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha till 1985. In January 1982, he was appointed Finance Minister, and given additional charge of the Commerce and Supply ministries. In 1984, he was rated as one of the best five Finance Ministers of the World in a survey conducted by Euro Money. In 1985, he was appointed president of the West Bengal PCC.

However, he developed some differences with new Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and was expelled from the party for some time, forming the All India Congress(I) Workers' Convention. However, he was taken back into the party in November 1988.

In the Narasimha Rao government, he served as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission from June 1991 to May 1996, as well as Commerce Minister from January 1993 to February 1995, when he took over as Foreign Minister and held the post till the 1996 General Elections.

Between 1996 and the return of the Congress to power at the Centre in 2004, Mr Mukherjee served on several important parliamentary committees including the Business Advisory Committee, the Committee on Privileges and the Committee on Rules. He was also the party's Chief Whip in the Upper House till 2004, and headed its Media Committee, Economic Reforms Commitee and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. He was appointed party General Secretary in December 1999.

Having spent five terms in the Rajya Sabha, he won his first Lok Sabha election from Jangipur in 2004, after two defeats in 1977 and 1980.


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