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Lost and not found

These days, we are told, the soft-spoken Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is feeling lost because he is not feeling like a PM anymore.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2010 21:35 IST

These days, we are told, the soft-spoken Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is feeling lost because he is not feeling like a PM anymore. His aides say that he is feeling more like an archetypal school principal thanks to his feuding wards, the Cabinet ministers, who are up against each other over key policies and projects. The latest round of squabbling that the PM has to arbitrate features the Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh (the born-again environmentalist) on one side and Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath, Power Minister Shushilkumar Shinde and Water Resources Minister Pawan Bansal on the other.

The trio has complained to Mr Singh that Mr Ramesh’s ministry has been delaying environmental clearances for key infrastructure projects. The PM has now asked the Planning Commission to formulate a procedure that will help fast-track environment clearances. While the trio must be celebrating their win, Mr Ramesh is sulking. Why wouldn’t he? Post-Copenhagen, his reputation as the keeper of our green treasures was in tatters. But then he managed to claw his way back into the hearts of the green lobby with carefully crafted pronouncements on genetically modified foods and mining leases. Just when he was savouring his sudden jump in the popularity stakes, his colleagues ruined it all. And Mr Ramesh is hurt too. Only a month back, he told all and sundry that the PM was his only support in the Cabinet. But now the referee has backtracked too.

So now we have a piquant situation: the PM is not feeling like a PM and the minister not feeling like a minister. Which in a way puts both on the same side. Shall we say the curious case of Indian politics?