25 November, 2020

Dieting Before The Binge

It’s the missing link between prudence, pork-barrel politics

Illustration by Sorit
Dieting Before The Binge

Suddenly, it all makes sense. Political sense, that is. Pranab Mukherjee’s 2011 budget, his third for UPA-II, is a work of genius precisely because it contains an ambivalent message. It is neither reformist nor anti-reform. It’s neither overtly political nor brutally economic in vision. It’s neither profligate nor tight-fisted.

One could say it’s neither here nor there, but it is probably the right script for the Sonia-Manmohan-Rahul troika in 2011-12, which marks the mid-point in the UPA’s second term. The political backdrop to the budget explains why Pranab did what he did on February 28. The last 12 months have seen the government’s credibility in tatters, with the PM taking much of the flak for sleeping on his watch when the Kalmadis and Rajas were eyeing the household silver. It wasn’t Manmohan’s failure alone, but also Sonia’s. Under the tacit understanding struck in 2004, she was to run the coalition and he the government. The problem is, neither managed either. Hence the...



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