Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony, left, stands behind as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, second left, Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, third left, and Congress party president Sonia Gandhi pose for the media after Mukherjee was nominated for the post of India’s president during ruling United progressive alliance meeting, in New Delhi, Friday. — APNEW DELHI — India’s ruling Congress party named Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as its nominee for president Friday, capping a week of political turmoil that exposed the fragility of a coalition government that has lurched between crises as the economy sputters.
Mukherjee is expected to step down by June 24, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could take charge of his portfolio for the next several months, a source close to the finance minister told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Singh’s reputation as the architect of landmark economic reforms in 1991 that unleashed two decades of faster growth has been badly tarnished by widespread criticism of his leadership. Investors and business leaders complain that his government has favored populist policies that fail to rein in spending on subsidies and bring down stubbornly high inflation.
There is no obvious successor to Mukherjee, but analysts said filling the vacancy was less important than the government overcoming internal divisions that have led to policy flip-flops on major economic reforms and scared off investors.
The government first though must work to gain the support of political parties for Mukherjee’s candidacy for the largely ceremonial post.
“The UPA appeals to all political parties ... to support Pranab Mukherjee for the office of president,” Singh’s office said in a statement after a meeting of the Congress party and its allies.
Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi officially nominated Mukherjee at the meeting, though one key ally, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who rejected Mukherjee’s candidacy, did not attend the meeting. — Reuters