When we landed in Tokyo it was quite evident that the visit had been planned for its economic and political impact back home. He was able to extract an additional $ 1 billion in aid, over 70 per cent of which will go to the Congress- ruled Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, controlled by ally DMK. He was also able to wrangle a $ 4 billion loan for the 1,483 km Dedicated Freight Corridor between Delhi and Mumbai. Though Japanese officials were unwilling to conclude a more comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the corridor was something that caught the eye of Japan’s businessman turned PM Taro Aso who sees big bucks in it for Japanese businessmen, since about 30 per cent of the money will flow back into their coffers. The icing was another agreement for an industrial corridor on the same route involving investment between $ 20 and $ 30 billion.
The bureaucratic grapevine has it that the minister’s brainwave is aimed at helping several friends who fell on bad days after the SEZ scheme ran into trouble. And the man who could be the next chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, if the Congress manages to beat the odds and the BJP in next month’s Early of discontent Nath hits ‘ Jap- pot’ elections, made sure the spotlight was not deflected from him.