Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde promoted post-blackouts; PC is new FM

In a much-anticipated but limited reshuffle in the Union Cabinet, P Chidambaram was today made the Finance Minister and his portfolio of Home Ministry was given to Sushilkumar Shinde.

In the exercise, necessitated by the exit of Pranab Mukherjee from the Cabinet last month, Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily was given the additional charge of Power Ministry, a portfolio held by Shinde so far.

66-year-old Chidambaram returns to the Finance Ministry after more than three-and-a-half years. He was moved from Finance Ministry to Home Ministry in place of Shivraj Patil in December 2008 in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks with the task of strengthening the country's security.

He takes charge of the Finance Ministry at a time when the economy is witnessing sluggishness and a scare has been created among foreign investors by some decisions on tax issues.

Chidambaram will have the challenge of restoring the confidence among the foreign investors besides taming inflation and ensuring return to high economic growth.

Shinde, 71-year-old former policemen and a dalit leader, will have the first tryst as the Home Minister. He has the task of dealing with the challenge posed by naxalism.

He takes over at a time when Assam has been witnessing widespread riots.

The reshuffle of portfolios had been necessitated by the exit of Pranab Mukherjee, who held the portfolio of Finance Ministry before getting elected as the President.

Mukherjee resigned as the Finance Minister on June 26 and since then the Prime Minister himself was looking after the portfolio.

The reshuffle of portfolios is seen as a precursor to a bigger rejig in the Council of Ministers possibly after the Monsoon Session ends on September 7, with Rahul Gandhi expected to be inducted.

Chidambaram's return to the Finance Ministry was immediately welcomed by the industry which hoped that the architect of 'dream budget' of 1996 will put the economy on higher growth path and expedite stalled economic reforms.

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