Finance Minister of India Pranab Mukherjee - the presidential candidate for the ruling party UPA - resigned from his post and bid farewell to active politics on Tuesday.

The minister met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late afternoon and submitted his resignation at 4.40 pm local time.

I feel honored and humbled on nomination as a presidential candidate of UPA ..Supported by the political parties -Samajwadi party, BSP, Shiv Sena, CPM , Forwad Bloc, Mukherjee said addressing reporters on his last day, at the North Block office in New Delhi.

Mukherjee, who drew much flak for the country's slowing economy and the government's policy indecisiveness during his tenure as finance minister, said in his farewell speech to reporters: I am leaving behind my life as a political activist spanning over four decades. Not every decision I have taken may have been right but I have taken those decisions keeping in view the interests of people whose faces appear before me more than all, reported NDTV.

The Prime Minister will handle the finance portfolio himself as there is no indication of a successor to Mukherjee, said sources.

Mukherjee will also resign from the primary membership of the Congress party, which is mandatory before he files his nomination for India's presidential post. This post is largely ceremonial and apolitical.

Speaking at the Congress Working Committee meeting Monday he said that leaving the party, which he was a part of for more than four decades, was an emotional moment.

Given the economic problems and slow growth the country is facing at present, it is more likely that the Prime Minister, an economist himself, will retain the portfolio. (He was also the finance minister in the Narasimha Rao government and was instrumental in launching the economic reforms in 1991.)

A tough job lies ahead for the finance minister as there are several key issues such as the 2G and 3G spectrum allocation and license issues, FDI in key sectors like retail, rising inflation besides many other issues that need urgent policy decisions.  

Mukherjee will face P A Sangma, an independent candidate, backed by the opposition parties the NDA, the AIDMK and the Biju Janata dal. Given the strength UPA and its allies enjoy in the parliament, Pranab Mukherjee will win the race comfortably. The Left parties have also declared their support to Mukherjee.