One of the main mission of the budget was to save Congress especially after its recent election debacle in UP and Punjab. The main party of the ruling alliance was in trouble and it badly needed moral strength to defeat allies in UPA like the TMC (Trinamool Congress) and opponents outside the UPA.
A major headache for the Congress was the emergence of TMC and Mamata as masters of pressure politics. The TMC has served as an opposition inside the UPA.
Congress would have been in trouble if it had reduced any of the subsidies including the fuel subsidy. An increase in diesel price would have given Mamata a beautiful chance to acquire the image of protector of the mass within no time to frustrate the Congress and raise its image within Bengal and UPA. But, this time Pranab Mukherjee was brilliant than in any other occasion and he hasn’t made an attempt to brought down the subsidies. After all, subsidy is a major scale to measure the size of populism in a budget. The continuation of high subsidy may be a backward step from economics perspective, but a forward one from political perspective. Indirectly the subsidy move has silenced Mamata, and Congress has secured a non-election victory though at a fiscal cost.
Major strategy of the budget it seems, was not to make any anti-populist measure for the sake of reforms. Subsidies have not withdrawn and diesel price are not hiked despite rising crude prices. In the process, Congress was able to open its door to new political heavyweights like the Samajwadi Party because of the absence of anti-populist steps in the budget. This is another reason for Mamata for being too silent at least till the occurrence of another opportunity. Pranab Mukherjee has saved the Congress, but in the process, whether he saved the economy is doubtful.