The more things change for Pranabbabu, the more they remain the same for Pranab-babu. The External Affairs Minister was in Guwahati this weekend to enunciate his government’s ‘Look East’ policy. A nice and timely gesture, one would think, considering that this was a central minister looking eastwards himself at Assam. Addressing the gathering, Mr Mukherjee read out salient features that have come to be familiar points among MEA watchers. But one didn’t quite expect things to be so familiar that Mr Mukherjee’s speech was the exact same one he had delivered four months ago in Shillong.
Mr Mukherjee is, thankfully, not Shivraj Patil, so he can be forgiven for peddling the same ‘Look East’ policy speech within the borders of India. Unfortunately, what did stick out like an over-active langur in the South Block area is the mention of the need to develop closer ties with Myanmar.
In June, when the minister had first (can one be sure that this indeed was the first time he read the document?) articulated India’s ‘Look East’ policy, neighbouring Myanmar was not in the news for all the wrong reasons. Somebody could have at least updated those lines. But then who would have known that Guwahati would catch on to things that Shillong had already heard about?