Who runs the nation's economy? Clearly, the two men most in the spotlight are Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union finance minister P. Chidambaram. But many would say that there is a third person. He is Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission, the country's premier economic think-tank, who wields the sort of clout very few of his predecessors ever enjoyed. A cabinet minister went so far as to tell Outlook: "He may not be a politician, but he is the third power centre in the country."
This extremely articulate and utterly persuasive reformist may not be "accountable" in the way a minister is. But, thanks to his proximity to the PM, it is Montek's economic writ that runs across several ministries—almost all, barring the ministries of external affairs, defence and home.