What was the Congress’ point in bringing a geriatric brigade into the Council of Ministers? While the party apparatus is getting younger — the AICC average age is now 52 — the Ministry is getting older. The average age of the set of new entrants is 70. Fortuitously, nobody buckled as they shuffled to the dais and completed taking the oaths of office and secrecy without oxygen tanks being called for.
In poll mode, the Congress wants to be fighting fit. But by bringing back the tired and discarded to the government, is the Congress suggesting that it has called it a day on policy-making and/or governance? Or, perhaps it is just about rewarding the loyalists, even if it is only a gesture what with the government on the last lap.
The key question now is: What happens to all the reform moves the Finance Minister has promised? Chidambaram’s brave promises have kept the stock market on a high. Will this now sputter out? Not necessarily but, perhaps, there will be more of the stuff all designed to keep foreign funds coming in. Already the government has bent over backwards — nixed GAAR, made investments easy, not sifting too much about the source. It will bend some more, as elections draw near. Forget economics or prudence, it is electoral politics time.
The government will do all it can to keep the foreign funds coming. This will keep the markets buoyant, or rather the Sensex which seems to be the sole reference point on the economy. There is really nothing else, other than foreign funds, in the economy to keep the Sensex at such levels. Indeed, the appetite for gold is also an indicator that all is not well and that people know it too. And, then, foreign funds can offer a crutch to the rupee that is wobbling dangerously.
In all this, one wonders where this mini-reshuffle fits in, if it has any meaning, or sends any message? No useful answer emerges. And, if you did see any of the wizened set stoop, it was not to conquer.
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