Chidambaram was widely seen in the Congress circles as replacement for Pranab Mukherjee after his election as the country’s president. He had assumed charge of the Home Ministry when it was drawing flak over internal security situation in the country. Chidambaram faces a challenging task as Finance Minister in the wake of slowdown in the country’s GDP growth, declining value of rupee, concerns over fiscal deficit and global economic uncertainty.
Shinde, who was Power Minister before taking over Home, is considered a loyalist of the Nehru-Gandhi family. His new appointment came even as the Power Ministry was facing widespread criticism over breakdown of the northern grid for two successive days, resulting in crippling power outages in several states.
Congress sources said Shinde’s appointment as Home Minister was an indication that he could be appointed as Leader of the House in Lok Sabha to replace of Mukherjee.
A low-profile politician, Shinde belongs to the Dalit community and his elevation to a crucial portfolio is likely to be leveraged by Congress leaders for political gains in the forthcoming elections.
Ex-cop is country’s Home Minister
Rising from a humble police sub-inspector in Mumbai, Sushilkumar Shinde got the position considered by many as next only to the prime minister. A soft-spoken, perpetually smiling individual, never known to lose his cool in the gravest of crises, Shinde has worked his way up the political ladder over the past five decades.
Born to a Dalit family in Solapur on September 4, 1941, Shinde graduated with honours in Arts from the Dayanand College and then obtained a law degree from Shivaji University. However, he discarded his traditional agricultural background and went into government service — first as an office assistant in a local court, then as a law-enforcer (policeman) and thereafter as a lawmaker.
At the behest of Sharad Pawar, Shinde took the plunge into active politics in 1971. However, years later, when Pawar twice parted ways twice with the Congress, Shinde remained loyal to the parent organisation.