The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Montek gets hat of plan panel deputy

New Delhi, June 16: The United Progressive Alliance government today named Montek Singh Ahluwalia the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, ending a week of speculation.

Ahluwalia, who was part of the team under Manmohan Singh — then finance minister — when he initiated the reform process in 1991, will end his tenure as director, independent evaluation, with the International Monetary Fund next month.

As the Planning Commission deputy chairman, Ahluwalia will enjoy cabinet rank. The plan panel deputy is normally a special invitee to a cabinet meeting.

Seven new members were also inducted into the commission. Kirit Parekh, former director of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Developmental Research, V.L. Chopra, the former director-general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Balchandra Mungekar, vice-chancellor of Mumbai University, Abhijit Sen, a professor in Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Syeda Hamid, member of the National Commission for Women, B.. Yugandhar, former director of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Institute of Administration in Mussourie, and Anwarul Hoda, former deputy director-general of the World Trade Organisation, are the new members, an official spokesperson said.

K.C. Pant, who was the deputy chairman of the plan panel under the NDA government, and the other panel members resigned following the alliance’s defeat in the elections.

Last Saturday, Ahluwalia was in the city en route to Beijing and met Prime Minister Singh and finance minister P. Chidambaram.

Ahluwalia has served as economic affairs secretary and finance secretary under Singh and Chidambaram. He was also member of the Planning Commission with minister of state rank.

The new deputy chairman is expected to be back in the capital later this week. “There is a lot of goodwill for both the Prime Minister and the finance minister. They were part of the original reforms team,” Ahluwalia had said last week before his departure to Beijing.

Rumours about Ahluwalia’s appointment as deputy chairman had been swirling for some time but there was pressure on the Congress-led government to make a political appointment. Among those being considered for the post were former chief ministers Digvijay Singh, S.M. Krishna and N.D. Tiwari.

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