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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
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The Right Lessons From The Left

Though some of his estimates are rather ambitious, Chidambaram seems to have learnt to temper growth with distributive justice

The Right Lessons From The Left
Prashant Panjiar
The Right Lessons From The Left
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
The problem with trying to please everyone is that one could end up pleasing precisely no one. That is because the happiness can get spread so thinly that it is easy to ignore it altogether. When I used these words to describe the Union Budget for 2004-05 to Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, he was not amused in the least. He was appearing on a panel discussion on Doordarshan News and dared me to point out how he had tried to please different sections and, in the process, ended up disappointing most. Sitting next to him in the studio were Yashwant 'Roll Back' Sinha of the BJP and Nilotpal Basu of the CPI(M). By the end of the session, Chidambaram had vociferously refuted all the points of criticism against his third budget. His arguments were persuasive, but only time will tell whether the rhetoric would measure up to reality.

The UPA government depends on the Left for its survival. Yet it is not averse to taking decisions that offend the Communists—Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and all the gung-ho reformers of 1991 vintage seem sanguine that the Reds would not risk a situation of direct confrontation with the Congress, at least, not until assembly elections are held in West Bengal and Kerala. They believe that even if the Left parties fret and fume once in a while, the fear of the BJP/NDA returning to power is too strong a cementing force and that the Commies would always stop shy of destabilising the government.

Thus, Chidambaram cocked a snook at them by hiking the limits on foreign direct investment in three sectors: from 49 per cent to 74 per cent in telecom, from 40 per cent to 49 per cent in civil aviation and from 26 per cent to 49 per cent in insurance. What did the FM have to say when he was asked to react to the opposition of the Left to his proposed increase in fdi caps? He beamed a smile and remarked that if...
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