New Delhi: India has not given any commitment to support French finance minister Christine Lagarde’s candidacy for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) top job, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters on Tuesday, a sign that India may still be hopeful of nominating an alternative candidate.
The top IMF job fell vacant after its former boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel maid. Kahn has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Lagarde is currently in India as part of her global tour to drum up support for her cause. She flies to China on Tuesday night.
“No assurance,” Mukherjee replied tersely, on being asked whether he had given any assurance to Lagarde for the top job at the International Monetary Fund.
Lagarde is seen as the leading candidate in the IMF race, which also includes Mexico’s central bank chief Agustin Carstens.
The finance minister reiterated India’s position saying the candidate chosen for the top job at the IMF should be on merit.
Indian officials have been working behind the scenes with other Brics countries and emerging markets to evolve a consensus for an alternative to Lagarde, but that consensus has eluded them so far.
The finance minister said that it is difficult to say whether the Brics and the emerging markets will have a common candidate for the top job.
“We are working together with the Brics countries. It is difficult to say at right this moment because there is a divergence of views in respect of different candidates”.
The Brics grouping includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
That divergence has allowed the European Union to quickly close ranks behind Lagarde. The French also claimed support from the Chinese and the US though both these countries did not publicly proclaim support for Lagarde.
German chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama are expected to meet on Tuesday and the issue of the IMF top job is likely to be on the discussion table.
The United States and EU together hold 48% of the votes at the IMF and if US and China indeed support Lagarde, the French finance minister will certainly end up with the top job.
With no unity in the ranks of the emerging economies and the Brics countries, the only stumbling block for Lagarde could be an order which may open her up to an enquiry into her role in a 2008 legal settlement.