Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has resigned on Tuesday to contest Presidential elections scheduled for July 19 as the ruling alliance’s nominee.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to retain additional charge of the crucial finance portfolio at a time when the economy is facing difficulties with declining growth, a falling rupee and a growing deficit.
Singh, an economist, held the posts of finance minister and central bank governor in the past and is widely acknowledged as the person who sets India on the path of economic reforms in the 1990s.
In a brief statement before submitting his resignation to Singh, Mukherjee said he was humbled and honoured to be chosen as the ruling United Progressive Alliance’s presidential nominee.
“I also feel a tinge of sentiment at the thought of leaving behind my life as a political activist spanning more than four decades,” said Mukherjee, one of the Indian National Congress party’s most prominent leaders.
Mukherjee’s main rival for the president’s post is the former speaker of the Lok Sabha, or lower house of parliament, PA Sangma who is being supported by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and some of its allies.
The president, who has a largely ceremonial role, is chosen by an electoral college comprising members of both houses of parliament and lawmakers from state legislatures.
The result is expected to be announced on July 22.