Anyway, I tried a few and I must admit they tasted quite good. But what did Soniaji mean, sending me fruit to pep up the budget? Was there a hidden message in this? I rung up the ever-resourceful Jairam Ramesh who is good at cryptic clues. "Pranabda, why don't we meet at Lodhi gardens at 8.30 tonight when I go for my daily walk. I can think clearly only when I'm on the move or when I'm in the shower." I agreed to the rendezvous. I caught up with Jairam speed-walking. He promptly ran his hand through his hair and then pointed to his feet. "I got these Reeboks at a sale. Buy the left shoe and you get the right one free," he said in a deadpan voice. Was this a poor joke or was he dealing in riddles? Meanwhile, I steered the conversation to mangoes. That sent Jairam into deep thought and after a good five minutes he uttered the word 'aam'. "But Jairam, that's mangoes in Hindi." He literally scoffed at me: "It's elementary, Pranabda," he said making a Dr Watson out of me. "Aam," he said a shade louder. "Can't you see, Soniaji wants you to present an aam aadmi budget. Give the aam aadmi some aam Pranabda." I was impressed. This Jairam is truly a genius!
The very next day, I sent Alphonsos to all the babus in my ministry. It was soon exploding 'aam' everywhere. Meanwhile, the big dilemma before me: should I announce any reforms in my budget. Jairam once again came to my rescue. "Pranabda, reform ko re-form kar do. Don't make any announcements we can implement it later. As for now, the message from 10 Janpath is loud and clear. This has to be a mango budget. Thank god Soniaji didn't send you lemons for inspiration...."
(As imagined by Ajith Pillai)
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