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Sharma vs Jairam: Cong flyweights in shadow-boxing bout

If you thought only the heavy-weights of the UPA—Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram—are at daggers drawn, you have another thought coming.

Even the flyweights are having their own little pow-wows.

A few days ago, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh took potshots at the government for failing to bite the bullet on fuel prices. He told The Economic Times:The time for pussyfooting is over. We still have two years left and it is time to take the bull by its horns.” And the bull he wants to take by the horns is fuel subsidy. "I favour a rational subsidy regime, targeted at those who need it. I am against subsidies that favour the rich. Why should we subsidise corporate entities through concessions?"

Jairam Ramesh. Image courtesy PIB

On Tuesday, Anand Sharma, the commerce and industry minister, whose trade policy is intended to subsidise at least those "corporate entities" that export stuff, took Jairam on on his reformist credentials.

According to The Indian Express, Sharma pointed out that "Jairam Ramesh was one of the ministers who put up resistance to the National Manufacturing Policy", which is intended to create 100 million jobs over the next 10 years.

Sharma also rubbished Ramesh’s call for ending fuel pricing subsidies as "uninformed comment". He said, "Global fuel prices have been volatile. This issue (of cutting subsidies) is politically volatile. Petroleum minister has had a press conference. Finance minister has commented. My considered view is that there has to be a targeted approach... People who make an uninformed comment, particularly those occupying responsible positions it is primarily on partisan considerations. They should do some homework before taking a political position."

With the finance ministry up for grabs in case Pranab-da makes it to the Rashtrapati Bhawan's lawns, it's not surprising that UPA's Junior Boxers are skirmishing to show boss the stuff they are made of.

We’ll let you know in case Ramesh responds to Sharma’s views. Meanwhile, welcome to UPA’s Jr Circus.