Wednesday, June 27, 2012

PM Singh loves to be FM, May over turn Pranab decisions

Prime Minister Dr manmohan singh swung into action immediately after taking over the charge of the finance ministry and cracked his whip. Dr Singh seems to be in a great hurry and meeting all top officials of the ministry and stake-holders connected with the economy directly.

According to an official spokesman of the Prime Minister’s Office Pankaj Pachauri, the Prime Minister will be issuing certain directions after assessing the situation with regard to work allocation and policy matters shortly.

It is learnt that the first to call on him late last evening was his old-time buddy and Deputy chairman of the planning commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Today noon, he met his Economic Adviser Dr C Rangarajan. In the evening he met all top officials of the Finance Ministry – R S Gujral, R Gopalan, Sumit Bose and others.

Dr Manmohan Singh shall be interacting with Governor of Reserve Bank

D Subba Rao and his deputies tomorrow. He also plans to visit North Block next week to the office of Finance Minister to interact with other officials.

He will meet the two ministers of state- Namo Narain Meena and S S palannimanickam on Friday. 

Though there are several challenges the country is facing on the economic front, the Prime Minister may have to focus on some immediate steps. If reports are to be believed,  the reserve bank of India is likely to clamp down on gold coin imports and subsequent sales by banks, amid rising bullion imports to the tune of more than 60 billion dollars (Rs 3 lakh crores). This has added pressure to the current account deficit and weakening the rupee. The Banking Regulation Act does not allow banks to trade in commodities and they play the role of a financial intermediary. But former FM Pranab Mukherjee did not take any steps to contain this avoidable import.

This norm was relaxed in the pre-2008 era when the country saw a dollar influx that resulted in a sharp appreciation of the rupee. To sterilise dollar inflows, banks were allowed to sell gold, as they imported the yellow metal. The measure was temporary. But it became permanent without any steps.

 On the agenda is fiscal consolidation by checking expenditure and finding non-intrusive revenue sources, reinstating investors' confidence and ending nervousness over taxes.

Also on agenda is speeding up disinvestment and taking a call on other non-core assets. The Prime Minister will also preside over the EGoM and finalise pricing of spectrum allocation. Another challenge is to boost the sliding GDP, impaired IIP and check continuous Inflation, capital market reforms.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Who will be New Finance Minister? A guessing game is

Who will be New Finance Minister ? A guessing game is

Even as Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister C Rangarajan ducked the question whether he will don the mantle of as the next finance minister,  the Capital was agog with the speculation that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may keep the portfolio with himself for sometime. Though PM also avoided a direct reply to the question when asked in this regard, other contenders such Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia remained incommunicado.
When Rangarajan was asked by a TV channel whether he would don the mantle of the new FM, he made that such questions should not be put to him. But this was neither here nor there.

Since no swearing-in-ceremony has been slated at the rashtrapati bhawan till the time of going to the press, it is clear that finance ministry will be given to Minister who is already a part of the Union Cabinet including the PM himself.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, too, is not keen on bringing in an outsider as the next finance minister and wants a political person be given the charge. Government sources say a team of senior bureaucrats are likely to assist Manmohan Singh initially.

Home Minister P Chidambaram, who has handled the finance portfolio, is very keen to return to the finance ministry as he was transferred against his wishes during 2008 mumbai terror attack. Jairam Ramesh is lobbying hard for the post too flouting his MIT credentials. But he has no takers. Montek Singh Ahluwalia may not be able to make it though he is a hit favourite of the Prime Minister. It is yet to be seen if Sonia Gandhi agrees. But even his induction will require a special swearing-in-ceremony which doesn’t look possible.

Since Pranab Mukherjee is set to resign tomorrow, he directed various wings associated with his ministry to take a series of steps on his last day as Finance Minister. This saw the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) hiking the limit of external commercial debt by $10 billion. Moreover, the regulator also increased the limit of overseas investment in government bonds by $5 billion to $20 billion.
But nothing could cheer the markets as sensex was down though rupee gained a bit. What can happen on the last day when the man couldn't do in four years as FM, wondered an economic expert.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

AS FM, he destroyed Economy, as Prez Candidate weakened UPA
NDA emerged stronger

As Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee virtually destroyed the booming Indian economy. By imposing himself on the party as the Presidential candidate, he has weakened the Congress and the UPA. A senior NCP leader P A Sangma dumped the UPA and Mamata Banerjee is sitting on the fence. Mukherjee had gone back to his old friends - the Left  and Mamata may end up supporting Sangma.

The NDA may look divided as it lost JD (U) and Shiv Sena to Mukherjee. But in the final run up, NDA will be able to retain both and add AIADMK and BJD in the kitty. The NDA got a toy hold in the North East and support base in the Tribal belt across the country as a feel-good factor by supporting P A Sangma.
Therefore, NDA has rather emerged stronger as it got three allies – Sangma. Jaya and Naveen Patnaik.

The Left parties may look divided on the Pranab Mukherjee as RSP and CPI decided to abstain. But the Left re-opened its pipeline with the Congress once again which was buried in 2008. This again will damage the Congress more though Pranab Mukherjee may get his votes.
All these are no good sign for the UPA despite a presidential win for Pranab who may barely get 55% of popular votes.

L K Advani prevailed in his own party as Nitin Gadkari left for Nagpur and Arun Jaitley finally came on the board.  It is yet to be seen who will be election incharge of P A Sangma- BJP’s Sushma Swaraj Swaraj or someone from the AIADMK and BJD.

 The way Naveen Patnaik thanked the BJP for backing Sangma as the presidential candidate, it was clear that sooner than later he will be part of the NDA. The BJP has accepted the role of a junior partner in the state, finally.

Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) should be a happy man too as NDA’s convener, his kitty will swell. TMC leader Mamata banerjee is maintaining a complete silence. If reports are to be believed, all out efforts are on by the BJP leadership to persuade her to support P A Sangma.

 It is also unclear what will happen to Agatha sangma who is an NCP MP and  minister in the UPA government at the centre. The Congress has left it to NCP to take a decision in this regard and Sharad Pawar will have a tough time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

After Gadkari, Jaitley gives a miss to Advani meet

After a virtual split in the NDA, divisions within the BJP also surfaced on the question of Presidential candidate. While the popular perception in the BJP and NDA is that no useful purpose will be served by opposing  Pranab Mukherjee for the post of the President, L K Advani was hell bent to oppose him. Aided by Subramanian Swamy and Sudheendra Kulkarni, he finally roped in P A Sangma. But several BJP leaders are upset with the veteran BJP leader L K Advani. Instead of publicly opposing or also in the meeting, they opted out. While BJP president Nitin Gadkari left for Nagpur yesterday itself and made it clear that he would return only after the wedding of his son on June 24, leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley also skipped the strategy meeting at Advani's residence this evening.

Party general secretary and chief spokesman ravi shanker prasad was also not there. Of course Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Subramanian Swamy, Sudhindra Kulkarni and others were present.  When contacted, jaitley's aide said, "Saheb is unwell."

Some BJP leaders are also upset over the fact that Advani is using non-party channels to play a pivotal role for BJP  and insisting on giving a token fight to the UPA on the presidential poll at the cost of the party and the NDA's unity.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Topple UPA plan foiled

Fly on the Wall
Subramanian Swamy’s dramatic and fool-proof plan to topple the UPA-II government at the Centre in the name of second-term President hopeful was carefully crafted. Gujrat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy, a Mumbai-based media baron close to the BJP, AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha along with Swamy had chalked it out. Swamy told the NDA leaders that A P J Abdul Kalam has agreed to be a Presidential candidate as Mamata-Mulayam are backing him. He even talked to Kalam in the presence of the NDA leaders to buttress his claim. A victory for Kalam would have been a foregone conclusion and it would have been impossible for the UPA government to continue. But Swamy had no clue what Sonia Gandhi's political managers were doing. He did not realise that banking on Mulayam Singh Yadav will be a blunder and political harakiri. In the nu-clear deal, it was Amar Singh. But this time, who clinched Mulayam-Sonia deal, none of the coup planner knew. He dumped Mamata Banerjee without blinking.  A sheepish Swamy virtually kept quiet at the Sunday meeting of the NDA where allies revolted against Advani-Swamy alliance to play the spoil sport. L K Advani had to cut a sorry figure too in his party. Finally, Nitin Gadkari got a chance to smile.

How Mumbai Club swung the game for Pranab

It was the Mumbai club that swung the Presidential poll for Pranab Mukherjee. It is no secret that both Ambani brothers are very close to the finance minister who had long association with their father late Dhirubhai Ambani. It is also stated that Anil Ambani played a key role in moulding Mulayam who has been known for bending backward. The other industrialist houses of Bajajs, Mahindras, Birlas, Ruias, even the TATAs had wished Mukherjee well. The fact that Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar threw his weight behind Pranab Mukherjee was an indication that Mumbai club is keen for it. Pawar is working over-time to evolve a consensus for Pranab Mukherjee. It was Pawar who made Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi to speak to leaders of non-UPA parties on phone as soon as Pranab Mukherjee was chosen its candidate. Sonia spoke to Nitin Gadkari while Manmohan Singh talked to Advani, Sushma and Arun Jaitley in London. The PM spoke to Nitish Kumar, Mayawati and several others. The support of every leader was sought within the next 30 minutes and only then Mukherjee’s candidature was publicly declared.    

Uncomfortable Sonia

Sonia Gandhi was extremely uncomfortable when DMK’s T R Baalu made her to wear ceremonial shawl to her immediately after formal announcement of Pranab Mukherjee for president’s post was made. Baalu, desperate to get into the Union Cabinet, wanted to placate Sonia, Manmohan Singh and Pranab Mukherjee and had come prepared for the event. But the gesture didn’t earn him score any points, if sources close to Sonia Gandhi are to be believed.

Fitness freak Dimple
Dimple Rawat Yadav wife of AkhileshYadav is set to excel amongst the other six women members of the Parliament who are also slim and fit. Dimple is expected to take oath of office on the first day of Monsoon session in July. Harsimart Kaur Badal ( Akali Dal ), Priya Dutt (Congress)  Bhawna Gawli (Shiv Sena) ,Supriya Sule (NCP) Satabdi  Roy (Trinamool Congress) and Agatha Sangma (NCP) are among the other fitness freak women MPs. But Dimple being a daughter of a Army personnel, is very careful about what she eats and remains fit. With Dimple Yadav getting elected from Kannauj,  the total number of women MPs  
would go up to 60. 

Shinde to replace Pranab as Leader of the House

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has zeroed on Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to be the Leader of the House in Lok Sabha in place of Pranab Mukherjee. Though names of Home Minister P Chidambaram, Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath and even petroleum minister S Jaipal Reddy are doing the rounds for the post.

These three are equally senior in the party and parliament though Reddy is considered junior to them and new in the party as well. Shinde and Chidambaram  have been in parliament for more than 30 years and have held senior positions in the party and the government. Though they are junior compared to Pranab Mukherjee, who had personal equations with top leaders of the Left and veterans such as Atal Behari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, Jaswant Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sharad Yadav, Lalu Prasad and even Yashwant Sinha, a bitter critics of his economic policies.

Pranab is expected to resign from the Union cabinet after the Prime Minister returns from his two-nation tour and also from the post of the Leader of the House. There is a talk of Cabinet reshuffle and organisational revamp. But this seems unlikely given the scenario that Congress is trying hard for unanimity on the presidential poll for Pranab Mukherjee. Therefore, it will not be prudent to think of any cabinet reshuffle. What Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh decide on the Finance portfolio is still not clear. 

But Shinde’s appointment as Leader of the House look certain because of two reasons—the Leader has to maintain cordial relations with all the parties- a forte of Shinde. Chidambaram is having troubled times with the Opposition. So he may not be given this post. Kamal Nath, though senior, has been a back-room boy of the party. But his prospects do not look bright. His shifting from commerce to urban development was considered a set back for him.

Therefore, Shinde’s induction is most likely. In fact, Shinde’s name was once considered for the post of the President. But pending Adarsh case probe dampened his hopes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Congress shows spine, refuses to bow to Mamata on Waghela

The Congress high command showed its spine. The party managers made it clear to the TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee that there is no question of revoking the appointment of Shankar Sinh Waghela as the new Chairman of India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC).
Waghela was given the Cabinet rank by the UPA government. His appointment was aimed at strengthening the party apparatus in Gujrat which is going to polls during the year end.

But Sultan Ahmad belonging to TMC and a minister of state in the tourism ministry, went public opposing Waghela's appointment.  He said how could Waghela be given the Cabinet rank over and above him. He made it clear that the TMC would not tolerate it.
But Congress leadership contacted Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata asking her to restrain the erring minister who is openly criticizing the decision of the Prime Minister. The Congress also made it clear that waghela's appointment cannot be rescinded.
It is to the credit of Mamata, however, that she promised to restrain the minister. Waghela joined Monday evening as Chairman ITDC after the matter was resolved.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Mamata twist in the Mukherjee’s Presidential tail

Salman says Sonia working for “maximum consensus”

Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid added another twist in the tail in the presidential poll race today saying, the candidate will be an outstanding person around whom “maximum consensus would be built.”

This was first time senior Congress minister went public saying, “the party is trying to build a maximum consensus for the presidential poll.”

Only yesterday Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi had clarified that the party had “yet to finalise any names” for the post of the President. This was only to set at rest growing speculations in the media that Pranab Mukherjee’s name had almost been finalized and efforts for a consensus are merely an eye-wash.

With Khurshid adding a twist propounding “maximum consensus” theory seems to have opened a new dimension.

Sources in the ruling UPA say that Pranab Mukherjee is not the only one around whom maximum consensus can be built. In fact more than Pranab Mukherjee, it is Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar around whom maximum consensus can be built. In fact, Meira Kumar is capable of breaking the NDA in her favour. Meira Kumar is not only capable of securing the support of the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Left and even the SP, but also of the Janata Dal (U). She belongs to Bihar and a Dalit. Therefore, the UPA would be rather too happy to break the NDA on Meira Kumar’s name.  TMC leader Mamata bannerjee has openly advocated her name for the president’s post and virtually gave no credence to Mukherjee when pointedly asked about it sometime ago.

More than Pranab Mukherjee, his son Abhijit, an MLA in West Bengal gave a clue to the real problem when he said yesterday in Kolkata, “I don’t think Baba (Pranab Mukherjee) would be nominated for the key post (of President) because it needs a consensus of the allies in the UPA.” 

It is well known that Mamata banerjee doesn’t have any soft corner for Pranab Mukherjee. She had said that she did not consider Mukherjee to be enough of a “son of the soil”.  She always believed that he was an agent of the Left in the Congress and weakened the TMC wherever possible.

Therefore, It is for Pranab Mukherjee to convince Mamata Banerjee. Mukherjee’s visit to Kolkata yesterday, ostensibly to inaugurate a bank branch was actually make a final effort at soothing her hurt feelings and last ditch effort to win her over. How far Mukherjee will succeed in his efforts will be known only in a couple of days.
Meira Kumar, on the contrary, has maintained a complete silence on the issue and did not offer any comments. But she continues to be the front-runner. It was because of the JD(U)’s instance that BJP has to maintain a silence on the issue as well.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Sonia trying for "Near Consensus" for Pranab as President

Sonia Gandhi is working hard to ensure that Pranab Mukherjee gets the support of all major political parties including the Left and even the BJP for her Presidential candidate.

Since BJP was completely opposed to Dr Hamid Ansari and so was Mamata Banerjee, Mrs Gandhi decided not to promote him. Instead, she chose Pranab Mukherjee who is capable of winning the hearts and votes of the Opposition parties. He can achieve “near unanimity” if not “complete unity” in the Presidential race and P A Sangma may even be running for a cover in the end.

The Left parties have already signaled that they are not opposed to the Congress’ presidential candidate per se. But they would ought to know his name. It seems the Left has been sounded out at an informal level for the “son of the soil” of west Bengal. How can Left oppose him and even the unpredictable Mamata Banerjee will fall in line.  The allies of the UPA have by and large consented for Congress candidate. The Samajwadi Party is not averse to supporting him either. Lalu Prasad Yadav will have to be sheepish as he had prematurely come out in support of Dr Hamid Ansari.

The BJP leaders are keeping their fingers crossed as Gujrat CM narendra Modi wants party to back P A Sangma. It was Modi who is sewing his own political alliances with J Jayalalitha and Naveen Patnaik. But the BJP is not very eager to back Sangma for the sake of a contest.

When Nitin Gadkari went to invite Sonia Gandhi for the marriage of his son, the louder message was that there would not be any confrontation on such issues. Sonia is keen to avoid a contest for the post as was the case in 2007 when the BJP fielded its candidate against Pratibha Patil. It may also be mentioned that Pranab Mukherjee and L K Advani are very close and leaders of the Opposition in both houses have cordial relations with him.

If Pranab Mukherjee was not made head of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on coal regulator and instead the task was given to Home Minister P Chidambaram, the finance minister is not taking several decisions which can turn out to be controvertial. It is certain that notification will be issued in the second week of June after the new Chief Election Commissioner takes over and nomination may be filed on June 16 before the PM leaves on 5-day foreign trip.

No post retirement job for Qureshi

Why Salman-CEC fought

There was a time when Law Minister Salman Khurshid and Chief Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi were best of friends. They were at every party thrown by their common friends and at their own houses.
But suddenly they fell out. Now it transpires that  Salman Khurshid dashed Qureshi’s hopes of getting a lucrative post-retirement assignment.

Qureshi wanted to carve out a post-retirement job and set up an institute to train a cadre for conducting elections which is now a round the clock exercise. But Qureshi wanted this training and educational institute be outside the Election Commission. To top it all, Qureshi wanted to become its president for life time. Though, later the tenure was brought down to five years. But still Qureshi wanted the institute to be registered as a separate society under the cooperative society. He proposed that the funds running into Rs 50 crores be given by the government.

The Law Minister Salman Khurshid who is the nodal minister of the legislative and legal affairs, wanted that the entire commission should consider Qureshi’s proposal. There were serious differences amongst the members as Sampath and H S Brahma wanted the institute to be part of the EC itself. When the EC sent the proposal to the finance ministry, it sat on the file and later said that a separate society cannot be permitted to be set up outside the Commission since it is a 100% government funded institute.
It was stated that Sampath wanted that the institute should be an extension of the EC itself and CEC should be its ex-officio chairman. Thus S Y Qureshi will be without a post-retirement job and Salman Khurshid is smiling.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012



UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is working hard to get the support of entire spectrum of political parties including the Left and even the BJP for party's Presidential candidate.

Sources close to 10 Janpath told this paper that activities are in full swing to ensure that there “near unanimity” if not “complete unity” amongst the political parties on the presidential candidate.
The Left parties have already signaled that they are not opposed to the Congress’ presidential candidate per se. But they would ought to know his name. Obviously, if Pranab Mukherjee is the candidate, the Left won't be able to oppose his candidature. The Left has been sounded out at an informal level by 10 Janpath confidants that Pranab Mukherjee is on the top of the ladder in the scheme of things. No doubt, Speaker Meira Kumar is around in the race. But it would be impossible to negate his candidature by the party.
The allies of the UPA have by and large given their views to the Congress president during their meetings in the last one month and have consented to support a political candidate. Most of the allies who met have not disclosed what transpired during these meetings. But it is clear that Vice President Dr Hamid Ansari is not a favoured one. His OSD has quit and taken over as a full time CEO of the Rajya Sabha TV and private secretary is in line to become a member of the election commission. Even the Left parties have conveyed that they are not particularly keen for his promotion. “It is for the Congress to chose,” a top Left leader said.
Obviously, Ansari was propped by the Left in 2007 as Vice President. Now Mamata banerjee is opposed to Ansari and will back Pranab Mukherjee. The Samajwadi Party is not averse to supporting him either.
Thus the UPA, its allies and the Left are all set to back Mukherjee. The BJP will be in a tough situation why to back P A Sangma particularly when L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley have close relationship with Mukherjee.
No doubt, some BJP leaders including Gujrat CM narendra Modi want party to back P A Sangma, but in the growing clamour for Pranab Mukherjee, it will be difficult for the party to go in for a contest.

When Nitin Gadkari went to invite Sonia Gandhi for the marriage of his son, the louder message was that there would not be any confrontation on such issues. Sonia is keen to avoid a contest for the post as was the case in 2007 when the BJP fielded its candidate against Pratibha Patil.

There are other indications also in the government about the emergence of Mukherjee as a possible choice.
Pranab Mukherjee was not made head of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on coal regulator and instead the task was given to Home Minister P Chidambaram. The finance minister is not taking several important and controvertial decisions including fixing base price of spectrum.
Though Janata Dal (U) has also indicated that it would favour Meira Kumar due to her Bihar connection. She is  Dalit also. Therefore, the BJP won't like to delink itself from its crucial ally either and may support Meira Kumar too. But the Congress problem is not Meira Kumar. Its Pranab Mukherjee who is insisting for the Raisina Hill job.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Will SP join the UPA ?

Two strange developments, one after the other, have baffled political observers signalling blossoming of bon-homie between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. While Ram Gopal Yadav, brother of Mulayam Singh Yadav was specially invited by the Congress to attend the swearing-in-ceremony of Sachin Tendulkar as Rajya Sabha MP yesterday morning, the Congress high command decided not to field any candidate against his daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav from Kannauj lok sabha bye-election.
The decision is significant because the 35-year-old Dimple had suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Congress' Raj Babbar in the by-election for the Firozabad parliamentary seat in 2009.
It is learnt that party general secretary Rahul Gandhi who is looking after UP affairs, consented not to field a candidate in Kannauj after a high-level review, It is also learnt that Akhilesh Yadav, chief minister Uttar Pradesh thanked Rahul Gandhi for the gesture. This is the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship of the two parties. Political observers feel that Congress-SP will sew up an alliance not only during the Presidential poll, it will go beyond Vice Presidential polls also. There is a possibility of SP even joining the UPA government in the political barter game though no formal discussion has begun in this regard.
There are reports that talks in this regard will be held soon and this may signal realignment of forces. Political analysts say that Ram Gopal Yadav is playing a crucial role in talks with the Congress party. There is also speculation that Ram Gopal Yadav may be an aspirant for the post of the Vice President. But sources in the Congress Party say that this proposal is not under discussion. “We are in talks. There is a new relationship of mutual understanding. At the moment, nothing beyond that,” said a senior party functionary considered close to 10 Janpath.
It is, however, not certain as to what will happen to Mulayam Singh Yadav’s bashers in the congress like Beni Prasad Verma and host of others.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why Pranab was chosen to move CWC resolution

It was expected that CWC would authorize party president Sonia Gandhi to decide on the presidential candidate. But what surprised was the choice of  Pranab Mukherjee to move such a resolution. 
No doubt, He is senior-most member of the CWC, Leader of the Lok Sabha and moved such resolutions at critical junctures in the past. Since  Pranab Mukherjee himself is a strong contender for the top slot, it was expected that the resolution would be moved by either home minister P Chidambaram or Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde or Motilal Vora.
Also to remember is the fact that this was contrary to the situation that  existed in 2007 where the decision was taken by the coordination committee of the Left parties and the UPA parties. In fact,  Pratibha Patil's name for the president's post was suggested by CPI general secretary A B Bardhan. It surfaced mysteriously.
But Mukherjee was completely unruffled and asserted, after a big laugh, "She (Sonia Gandhi) is the leader of the UPA, she will consider all choices. The Party nominee is always decided by the Congress President."

It is now learnt that a meeting of the UPA  will be called by Sonia Gandhi shortly to seek a similar mandate to select presidential and vice presidential candidates.  Only after being armed with these resoltuion, the congress president will unfold the names of the presidential candidate.

 Since the process of byelections will be over only on June 15, the new chief election commissioner will also take over on June 13 and PM is scheduled to embark on an official tour of Mexico and Brazil on June 16,  there are chances that the decision may be announced on June 15 itself.