30 July, 2021

How To Wear A Talisman Lightly

Pranab’s partymen and allies come around to the petrol price hike, but only grudgingly

Sanjay Rawat
How To Wear A Talisman Lightly

In the run-up to the budget, the Congress Working Committee met on February 5 to discuss the state of the economy, especially rising food prices. At that meeting, Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar was roundly attacked for mismanaging the food and agriculture sector. But even as food prices topped that day’s agenda, other members, including party general secretary Kesava Rao, warned against hiking prices of petroleum products at a time when the “common man is groaning under the impact of (food) prices...”

So, amidst a noisy Opposition walkout on budget day, aghast Congress MPs tried to figure out the implications of the petrol/diesel hike on the economy—and their political futures. Even a savvy MP like Milind Deora, son of petroleum minister Murli Deora, was so taken aback that he said he didn’t think it was the right time to effect a hike. Today, Milind—like every other Congress MP—is convinced that the government had no option. “No politician wants to raise prices,” he says,...

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