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PROFILE - Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee

Position: Finance Minister of India

File photo of India's Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as he speaks during a business meeting in New Delhi July 7, 2009. REUTERS/Vijay Mathur/Files

Incumbent: Pranab Mukherjee, 74

Term: May 2009 to date.

Key facts:

-- A master of India’s turbulent politics, Mukherjee is considered by many as the sharpest mind in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet with deep knowledge of the changing dynamics of India’s strategic and economic policies. He remains a heavyweight in decision-making by the Congress party.

-- Steeped in the politics of India’s socialist past, Mukherjee is no reckless fiscal populist. But he is no poster boy of economic reforms either, mindful of the importance of balancing the competing needs of India’s disparate coalition of parties representing 1.2 billion people of myriad castes and ethnicities. He espouses inclusive growth while steering Asia’s third-largest economy as it takes the world stage.

-- Mukherjee is much more than just the finance minister. He is the Congress party’s foremost trouble-shooter, often rising in parliament to defend the government on issues as diverse as foreign policy and inflation. He commands respect with opposition parties and often engages them to break political deadlocks.

-- Mukherjee studied politics, history and law and worked as a teacher, journalist and lawyer before joining politics. He has served at various times as the foreign, home, defense and trade minister.

He was once the political master of Prime Minister Singh, appointing him as governor of India’s central bank in the 1980s. He is a close confidant of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

-- Mukherjee, who was twice spoken of as a potential prime minister, left the Congress party in 1986 to start his own political group after differences with the party’s leadership over the top job. He returned to the party after two years.

-- Mukherjee has been on the board of governors of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and was rated one of the best finance ministers in the world by Euromoney magazine in 1984.

-- Mukherjee puts in up to 18 hours a day at work, at times summoning officials late at night for discussions. He loves fish curry and rice. He is married with two sons and a daughter.