Where is Manmohan Singh these days?

If anything, the outgoing PM’s silence speaks eloquently of all the sins of omission and commission over the decade


Ashish Mehta | April 11, 2014

Manmohan Singh: If this is how the longest-running prime-ministership of recent decades ends, aspirant Narendra Modi should have little reason to smile.
PTI/ file photo

The ongoing elections seem to be the hottest and most action-filled one in recent times. The whole world is watching India vote. Everyone from veteran observers of Indian politics to the friendly neighbourhood paanwala is excited and has things to say on the issues that should decide the vote: Modi, Congress, corruption.

Even Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, purportedly said something for Modi’s alleged incorruptibility before it turned out to be a fake tweet by an overenthusiastic fan [read our take here].

But one man has nothing to say, no views to offer. He does not wish to influence the agenda, much less your vote. He has adopted a stoic silence; an advait vedantic disinterestedness. If he were to say anything at all, he might quote Ghalib and say that to him the world is merely a playground of small kids. Unfortunately, that man is the outgoing prime minister.

If anything, Manmohan Singh’s silence speaks eloquently of all the sins of omission and commission over the decade. He and his party finally seems to be on the same page, because the Congress too wants to make no mention of the man in its campaign, no mention of the purported achievements of the government led by him; as if it wants to forget this decade even more badly than the rest of the nation.

On a given day, most newspapers tell readers where Modi will be, what Rahul Gandhi would be doing, what Kejriwal will be up to. But nobody has a clue if Manmohan Singh is in Delhi or trying a dry run of his retirement with a vacation in the hills. To say that the man has been reduced to a poor shadow of his former self would be an exaggeration: that was the case five years ago.

If this is how the longest-running prime-ministership of recent decades ends, Modi should have little reason to smile. But in this comparison lies the crucial lesson in statecraft. India seems so tired of a non-existent leadership that it is ready to tilt the other way and choose a rather too strong a leader, even an autocrat.

Yes, Advani did point it out, way back in 2009. The tagline of the BJP campaign in the 2009 election, projecting Advani as PM, harped on strong and decisive leadership. It did not sell then, less because of Advani and more because of Manmohan Singh’s show of strength in the nuclear deal affair with the US.

But what followed over the next five years is difficult to comprehend. Governance has been left on auto pilot, and an unprecedented number of financial scandals have come out. What was the Congress core team thinking? Yes, a third term for the party was statistically improbable, but that is not a reason to treat the second term as a bonus. Going by the ad spend of the two leading parties, the Congress does not seem to have been efficient even in filling its coffers.

That is why a thesis can be worked out that Modi’s rise is fuelled more by the Congress than by him or his PR firm. Many would now tell you that they thought of Modi as PM material right in 2007 or even earlier, but as late as 2009 the Congress was very much in the game. The party, and especially Rahul Gandhi, lost the plot some time later.



Other News

“The focus area is to minimise pendency, do more quality work”

The functioning of a national commission, be it NHRC, NCSC or NCST, depends on its head. Being the chief information commissioner (CIC), what is your vision for CIC?  And what has been your experience so far? The chief information commissioner and ten informa

CIC’s changing status quo

With the help of Right to Information (RTI), the common man not only has the right to know, but also the right to question those in power. This is the foundation of democracy,” said prime minister Narendra Modi at the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Central Information Commission (CIC)

Do you think the fiscal year should be from January to December?

Do you think the fiscal year should be from January to December?

Will Delhi see the highest ever turnout in the upcoming civic polls?

Historically, voter turnout for local elections has lagged behind state assembly elections and general elections.    For example, a recent report by Janaagraha shows that Surat recorded 40 percent voter turnout in local polls, 30 percent less than state elections

Women sensitized about their rights

 A group of women were sensitized about their rights at a workshop held in the national capital on Saturday. They were informed about the anti-harassment laws and legal provisions to safeguard women inside and outside their workplace.   The workshop – organ

AAP’s uncertain future, irony of being Advani, and an author seeks freedom of speech

The Narendra Modi- Arvind Kejriwal antagonism has always been about two different kinds of populism. While it may not play out in a municipal election, the fact remains that a Kejriwal chastened by Goa and Punjab faces a mid-term test in the municipal elections. For a politician harbouring intentions of


Current Issue


Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter