Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is cutting short his visit to Washington and rushing to New York to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, amid a storm back home over his Ministry’s note to the Prime Minister’s Office on the 2G scam.
Sources told PTI that Mr. Mukherjee, who is in Washington to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, is heading to New York to meet the Prime Minister for “obvious” reasons.
The opposition is gunning for Home Minister P. Chidambaram after a Finance Ministry note, that said 2G spectrum could have been auctioned if the then Finance Minister had insisted, surfaced.
The unexpected development takes place a day after the Prime Minister said he fully backed Chidambaram who “continues to enjoy and inspire my full confidence”.
Asked whether there was any rift between his two top Ministers, Dr. Singh said there was no infighting. The Prime Minister also spoke to Mr. Chidambaram on the issue from Frankfurt.
Mr. Mukherjee had also spoken to the Home Minister on Thursday.
Dr. Singh is in New York to attend the 66th session of the U.N. General Assembly and is scheduled to address the world body on Saturday.
The meeting between Dr. Singh and Mr. Mukherjee is expected to take place after the Prime Minister’s address to the General Assembly.
Sources would not divulge the specific reasons for the step, but would say it is “obvious” why he is travelling to New York to meet the Prime Minister.
It was not immediately clear if Mr. Mukherjee himself offered to go to New York to discuss with the Prime Minister the situation arising out of the latest controversy on the 2G Scam and Chidambaram’s role, or the Prime Minister summoned him to New York.
Indications about Mr. Mukherjee cutting short his visit came when his press conference with the Indian media that was earlier scheduled for Sunday morning was preponed to Friday afternoon 3.30 p.m. Washington time.
Among his pre-scheduled events, the Finance Minister was scheduled to attend International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) breakfast meeting on September 24 and a reception hosted by the State Bank of India on the evening of September 24.
Earlier, he was scheduled to leave for India via New York from Washington immediately after the breakfast meeting with Indian journalists on September 25.