New Delhi: Montek Singh Ahluwalia is the favourite of Indian industry to become finance minister and it wished for P Chidambaram to stay as home minister, while seeking a Cabinet berth for Rahul Gandhi.
Industry captains were, however, not clear what role Rahul should play in the next Cabinet.
Capital market expert Prithvi Haldea said the finance ministry should go to Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chidambaram should continue as home minister. Real estate leader DLF clearly favoured Montek to move to North Block on Raisina Hill that houses the finance ministry.
However, the views are split when it came to sectoral representatives with most of the players giving their wishlist without wanting to be named.
A large corporate house wanted Murli Deora to be back as the petroleum minister, or to be replaced by his son Milind. Kamal Nath also found favour for a second term as the commerce and industry minister, although a section felt that Jairam Ramesh could be given the charge.
For telecom ministry, CDMA operators favoured DMK leader A Raja to continue, while GSM lobby wanted the Congress to keep this portfolio with itself, so that it can go ahead with reform process without any hindrances.
UN official-turned-politician Shashi Tharoor, who is making debut in the Lok Sabha shortly after losing the race for the UN Secretary Generalship, also figured in the wish- list of industrialists for a place in the Union Cabinet.
“We hope to see Rahul Gandhi in the Cabinet,” Ispat Industries’ vice vhairman and managing director Vinod Mittal said, adding that age was not a criteria to be a dynamic leader and minister.
A cross section of investors, industrialists and analysts also felt that younger politicians, including Jitin Prasad, Sachin Pilot, Naveen Jindal and Jyotiraditya Scindia, should be given ministerial responsibilities.
Many of them felt that P Chidambaram should be given the responsibility of the home ministry, but few rooted for him to get back to the finance minsitry.
Brokerage firm SMC Capital’s Equity head Jaganaddham Thunuguntla said: “It will be good to have him (Rahul) in the Cabinet to give him exposure.”
Essar Steel Business Group CEO J Mehra said, “Congress has many dynamic options and Montek Singh Ahluwalia is one of them (for the Finance Ministry).” He, however, quickly added that it would not be wise at this point of time to name possible ministers without knowing who all are in the fray.
Taurus Mutual Fund’s managing director R K Gupta said the UPA has much better scope for change this time as now it would not have to seek help from the Left parties for forming the government.
“I believe finance portfolio might go to Montek Singh Ahluwalia as he is a close friend of the PM. Kamal Nath might retain the commerce ministry, but Shashi Tharoor, who has knowledge of commerce and international affairs cannot be ruled out as a potential candidate,“ Gupta said.
“UPA is likely to retain Chidambaram as the Home Minister,” he added.
Gupta further noted that Dayanidhi Maran could be brought back to the telecom and IT ministry, while Pranab Mukherjee could retain external affairs ministry.
With Ram Vilas Paswan losing the elections, the fertiliser, steel and pharmaceutical portfolios could go to a new member, possibly to a non-Congress ally in the UPA, he said. Some others felt that the portfolio could be split to give Jitin Prasada the charge of steel.
A senior official at GSM operators association COAI said that association was ready to work with any minister from any party under the UPA fold.
Many corporates did not wish to be named, but said that the ministries should be given as per the capabilities of the potential ministers.