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India's Finance Minister Resigns to Run for President

  • VOA News

Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee gestures as he arrives for the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting in New Delhi, India, Monday, June 25, 2012.

Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee gestures as he arrives for the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting in New Delhi, India, Monday, June 25, 2012.

India's finance minister has stepped down to run for president.

Pranab Mukherjee submitted his formal resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday. He will be the ruling, Congress Party-led, coalition's candidate in the July 19 presidential election.

In India, the president's position is largely ceremonial and is currently held by Pratibha Patil, whose five-year term is ending. The president is tasked with deciding which party will lead in forming a new government if a parliament is elected with no party winning a clear majority.

Mukherjee's resignation as finance minister comes as India's economy struggles with high inflation and lagging growth. In the January-March period, India's economy grew by just 5.3 percent - the slowest rate in nine years.

Prime Minister Singh has not named Mukherjee's successor.

Mukherjee's popularity cut across party lines and he was known for unifying a sometime fractious coalition. He has served in parliament for over four decades. Mukherjee told reporters Tuesday, "I know that not every decision that I have taken might have been right but I have taken these decisions keeping in view the interests of the people whose faces appear before me more than often."

The president is chosen by an electoral college made up of lawmakers from both houses of parliament and state legislatures.
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