With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in hospital after a coronary bypass surgery, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, currently in charge of the finance ministry, will present the interim budget on February 16.
However, if doctors permit, the prime minister might attend the last Parliament session of the 14th Lok Sabha on its last day, February 26, and even give a short speech, sources in the Prime Minister's Office said on wednesday. His attendance during the session, starting February 12, has been ruled out.
Singh, meanwhile, is now out of the intensive care unit, though for security reasons he remains in a special room in the ICU of All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Although the prime minister has expressed his desire to return to work as soon as possible, PMO officials have decided not to "disturb him unless it is unavoidable", according to a senior UPA minister.
Insiders said the prime minister had cleared important files before he went for surgery last week. A few important bureaucratic appointments have to be finalised before January 31 and he might sign the orders from his home.
As a member of the Appointments Committee of Cabinet, he had signed the papers authorising a couple of important appointments in the Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Research and Analysis Wing before he went to hospital. Some other appointments have to be cleared before January 31 but these, top government sources said, could get approval later. After his surgery, the only official talks he held were on Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee's sudden visit to Sri Lanka on Tuesday under pressure from DMK chief M Karunanidhi.
Meanwhile, Dr Sampath Kumar, head of the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery Department of AIIMS, said Singh was off monitoring and can move about in his room. "The prime minister can move about but cannot go out for security reasons," said Kumar.
President Pratibha Patil on wednesday called on the family members of the prime minister. According to an official statement, the prime minister has begun taking regular meals.
All catheters have been removed and he is being provided physiotherapy and cardiac rehab. He read newspapers in the morning and held discussions with his aide, said the statement.