The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minimum sleep process

New Delhi, May 27: Manmohan Singh spent two sleepless nights to fix the portfolios. The face behind the charter with a “human face” had to lose sleep for 10 days to come up with the CMP that passed the CPM’s test.

Jairam Ramesh, the architect of the common minimum programme, was not originally designated to author the programme. Singh was.

But Sonia Gandhi’s renunciation of prime ministership set off a chain reaction that put Singh in the saddle and Jairam, one of the public faces of the Congress economic think tank for over a decade, in the CMP hot seat.

From the night of May 18 till this morning, Jairam has been virtually glued to his Fujitsu light notebook screen at 99 South Avenue — the apartment in the heart of Delhi that doubled as the Congress’ “war room” during the poll campaign.

Sitting amid a foliage of printouts snaking out of a portable printer attached to the notebook, Jairam would be on his mobile, seeking feedback and inputs from leaders of demanding allies.

“The last 10 days had been a roller-coaster ride of drafting, redrafting and then again redrafting the new draft,” said a source familiar with the drawing up of the common minimum programme.

Between May 18 and May 26, Jairam had to modify his draft as many as six times. The sixth and final draft was placed before the alliance leaders for formal approval yesterday.

Jairam did not have to interact so much with Singh as with the Left. The author of the draft had a ringside view of Singh’s economics as officer on special duty when the current Prime Minister was finance minister in the nineties. Jairam was also at ease with Congress politics as he had drafted the party’s election manifesto in consultation with Sonia.

However, the Left was a new turn for the pro-reform economist, though he had pored over the manifestos of all the parties supporting the coalition.

After every draft, he would get a fresh set of clarifications from the allies, particularly the Left. On one occasion, a clarification came not through the usual channel, but from a comment in a newspaper by a Left leader. Challenged, the Left veteran came up with a disarming excuse: “We want to work in an atmosphere that is as transparent as possible.”

Jairam’s main interlocutors over the past week were CPM leaders Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan and his colleague D. Raja, NCP general secretary Praful Patel, DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran, MDMK chief Vaiko, RJD boss Laloo Prasad Yadav and TRS leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

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