19 October, 2020

The Ringmaster Cracks His Whip

Shourie and his government 'bull cartel' ensures that PSU stocks are oversubscribed within minutes

T. Narayan
The Ringmaster Cracks His Whip
On March 4, 2004, Union disinvestment minister Arun Shourie wasn't his usual self. He walked barefoot, fighting fever and a sore throat. He instructed his staff to arrange for a cup of hot water at just the right temperature so that he could have Joshina, a herbal medicine. But, in the midst of all this, Shourie picked up the phone to inquire about a faxed report he got each evening. The single sheet detailed out the day's developments about ONGC's issue, the biggest ever in India, scheduled to open the next day.

This was his new war room, from where he ensured the success of public issues of six PSUs within a short span of three weeks, ending with the Rs 12,000-crore ONGC issue being oversubscribed several times last week. This was executive activism at its best. For, despite all odds, the government raised Rs 15,000 crore using threats, carrots, sticks, incentives, everything that it could do. This year, it seems, this will only be the fourth time that the budgetary target for disinvestment proceeds will be exceeded.

Going by the appearance, Shourie, with his frail...


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