Ashok Desai is in fine form as always, and delivers some of the best lines on the finance minister in recent times:
He does not take shelter behind his advisers like the prime minister, who seldom gives his own views. He is often wrong, which makes it easier to criticize his interpretation. It is impossible to find such a riveting combination of intelligence and fallibility. The nation is likely to be stuck with him for many years; a columnist would hope never to be without him.
Recently, he has been strangely silent. That cannot be due to his critics, for he hits out at them with abandon and then forgets them.
Manmohan Singh was an admirer of Vajpayee, and often went to do obeisance to him. But that is foot-service, not even lip-service. When it comes to action, he has carried out faithfully the wishes of Sonia Gandhi and her group of advisers; though famous for his personal honesty, he has created the world’s largest corruption mechanism in the form of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the public distribution system. Narendra Modi is making waves. He is leading the BJP’s election campaign, and giving speeches all over the country. They are extensively reported. If the press were an indicator, the country has woken up to him. I do not know whether it has or not; his new incarnation as Vikas Purush (development man) does not wipe out his earlier image as an abettor of riots against Muslims. His speeches are full of venom against the Congress. But when he can subdue his hatred, he comes up with all sorts of clever ideas. He has won over the middle class; if they were the majority, he would win handsomely. But whether he wins or not, I think everyone should pick up good ideas from him. What is worrisome about the Congress is the lack of ideas.