A sweet revenge against his boss and rivals?
Is there any hidden agenda?
A hidden agenda could mean many things. It could be a hidden economic agenda or it could well be a political agenda as well.
However you interpret the agenda, the hidden meanings could take different hue and meanings and messages.
One thing you can’t miss about Pranab babu is that he is the veteran of the current government team. He is also the most consummately skilled politician around. More than anything else he is perhaps the greatest survivor.
He had come back to the finance ministry after 25 long years gap.
And remember how much he had been bruised and burnt out, how much humiliation he had undergone. Not anyone in his place would have shown his anger and disgust.
But Pranab babu’s rarest of the rare skills are the man is unflappable. He can’t be found out!
That is why he survived this minefield of Indian politics.
So, we can see that this time at least, soon after the elections results were out when the Congress found itself on firmer ground, when the party got near majority, we saw how real power plays out. Old friends were discarded, old enemies too were shown the doors, the Left became pariahs, Lalu dumped in the cold, even within the party itself we saw some strange ambitions showing their heads.
The Prime Minister became a bold bolder and asked for his man, Montek Ahluwalia, to be sent to his side as the new finance minister. This was a bit surprising to those in the inner circles. Who took courage one doesn’t know but for sure it was evident Mukerjee got his men around to rally for him and the demand to make a politician the new finance minister became suddenly vocal. Even Sonia Gandhi had to fall in line and she became also vocal to state that no more non-politicians as ministers!
That is how Mukerjee found himself in the saddle and this was his last bid for getting his due place in the hierarchy and though it was not the ultimate prize, the office of the Prime Ministership, given his new found clout in West Bengal where Mamata Banerjee triumphed and the powerful Left humbled and along with this transformation of West Bengal as the new field for the coming political battle, Mukerjee must have been the natural successor to the Prime Ministership but that was not to be.
Was it Sonia’s renewed fear once more about the likely turnout or her otherwise lackluster advisers and confidants?
Anyway, Sonia opted for the duller face and though Manmohan Singh was given the job, it was Mukerjee in his new found legitimacy, to seek for a renewed path to new glory.
The budget in India has always been taken very seriously by the high and mighty, more so the corporate heavyweights and the media that Mukerjee finally decided, it looks from hindsight, that he must take some revenge.
Against his populist boss and rivals. Who the boss and who the rivals?
That should remain for now a mystery!
Mukerjee certainly took a bold gamble.
He gave up all norms and restrains one would normally associate with a many of his temperament and this time he decided to go down in history as the most populist of the populist leaders.
He didn’t care for Congress ideology. There is no ideology to be found in the budget. There is no economic ideology. Mukerjee chose to leave out what are economic reforms for the Congress party in the second avatar. Nor he cares for the budget making exercise norms. The highest deficit,6.8 per cent, the highest in the last two decades and also the lack of clarity, nay, no mention at all about the much-talked about high profile jargon about disinvestment or FDI or other reforms that were talked about for long and this time they were conspicuous by their absence from the budget speech.
And pray, what is his budget all about. Spend, spend more and continue to spend more!
Borrow, borrow and continue to borrow more, as much as a staggering Rs.4, 00,000 crores Borrow as much as a staggering from the market!
This is, to say the least, is very uncharacteristic of an experienced minister and a former finance minister and a senior leader as well.
And who need to be taught economics? Certainly not for a leader of his stature.
You can understand and take it or dismiss it, if it were persons like Manmohan Singh or P.Chidambaram presenting the budget. We know their mindset, their personality and traits.
He knows well or he must be the first person to know well that we are passing through a global melt down.USA is in deep crisis.
The US President Obama’s own economic adviser, on the very day when Mukerjee was interacting with the corporate leaders, was speaking in Singapore and she (Laura D’Andrea Tyson) said that the US, the world’s biggest and the most powerful economy, got a very heavy bailout, as much as 787 billion dollar stimulus package and yet it didn’t pull through and the US economy once again looks like a second possible prop up the economy. The US is losing jobs heavily and the American economy, says the US President’s adviser,” is in a far worse shape that the administration had estimated”. The US deficit is also ballooning, projected to 10% of the GDP.
Now, how wise we in India are as to believe, believe the Prime Minister of the Finance Minister as to stimulating growth of the economy by just spending the money on consumer items, rural wages on rural development works etc.
Unless the world economic situation improves and America comes round and stimulate the world economy, by boosting demand and thus helping us, India and other countries, to export and thus sustain our growth, how on earth, the Indian leaders, mostly the Congress leaders who in their euphoria of electoral success, just imagine that they have got the key to future economic growth roadmap.
Yes, the roadmap, the exact word the FM used to describe his forthcoming and as yet unspecified roadmap of economic reforms is yet to be discussed and debated.
Certainly, there would be differences of opinion within the party as well as outside in the country what the exact shape of the economic and political ideology the party would like to project itself before the expectant public.
It is here, perhaps, in the confusion that is the current nature of the Congress politics that Mukerjee might like to score a point or two, as the most populist of the populism-seeking Sonia or Singh!
Yes, in the future, immediately or longer after, a time may come when various parties, allies and enemies take their positions, Murkerjee might even then might look like the most radical of the politician, the more agreeable aam aadmi face of the Congress hierarchy.
Any politician’s secret desire is to capture the top post. How and why do we expect Mukerjee to be different, why you seek a martyr or a saint in him?
After all, Dr.Singh shown his tenacious hold on the post even after so much that has been said about his inappropriateness, his amorality in declaring he is from Assam etc.
So, in what way we expect Mukerjee to be different?
After all Sonia Gandhi might not be left with much choice in the future, in the near or mid-term. She might have to opt for Mukerjee when the chips are down, so to say.
So, beware that this time Mukerjee has the last laugh. He gave us the most populist, please-all aam aadmi budget. Thank you the finance minister!
Photo Courtesy : www.arf-asia.org