For about a minute in his nearly 2-hour press interaction, PM shows he is no robot, even throws down gauntlet at Modi. But then pulls back on the front where he should have spoken at length
Shantanu Datta | January 3, 2014
Question: Why did the robot score over Manmohan Singh when asked ‘who is more robotic among the two of you’?
Answer: In acting robotic, the prime minister failed to press the buzzer in time.
Poor jokes apart, even the robot would honourably step down the dais voluntarily when the best robot award is given out any time soon in Indian politics. “The stage,” as the robot might put it in a rare impromptu address to the media, “is all yours, sir.”
So the fact that the opposition (read the BJP) supporters would tear him apart – posture by posture, line by line, statement by statement – on the social media, and Arun Jaitley and company would repeat it at their own press address, scheduled later in the day, is a no-brainer. What Manmohan Singh, and ergo the Congress party, should be worried about is the opportunity lost.
Having admitted that price-rise and inflation were among the factors that were seen in the “strengthened democracy” in which the people spoke by “voting in record numbers in the recent assembly elections”, leading to the subsequent admission that “my party did not do well in these elections”, the time was ripe to take on the issue that has dragged his, and the party’s name, through the gutters in the last five years. And no prizes for guessing: it is corruption. That he should have as good as bid the next elections goodbye on behalf of the Congress party and then leave all questions regarding corruption and the tainted administration under his watch at the doorsteps of courtrooms and history (in that order) is not exactly understandable.
[Read full text of the PM's speech here]
His prepared speech, where he looks more robotic than his impromptu self, may not have had the scope or offered him the latitude to do so, prepared as it seemed by speech-writers borrowed from Rahul Gandhi’s office with more focus on lessons learnt than what needs to be learnt, but it’s the question-answer session with the media where Singh scored. And it is here where he could have scored further – by coming out ‘clean’. For both Singh, the teacher turned bureaucrat turned ever reluctant politician, and the party, that would have settled a lot of things. The respective images – the immediate and short-term as well as for posterity, or the area Singh thought could be judged best by “history” (he must have used the word some 10 times during the Q and A session) – being just one.
That he did not do so could rankle the Congress party in days to come. That the party could field its vice-president to apply a bit of spin-doctor version of antiseptic on issues of corruption and transparency – and he plays the part by tearing up papers and uttering words like “utter nonsense” – and could not give a free leash to Singh to answer the corruption-related questions freely is a little befuddling. After all, more people would be ready to buy nouns like honesty and transparency from Messrs Manmohan Singh than Messrs Gandhi Junior.
But where Singh could speak his mind – letting it be known in no uncertain terms that “it will be disastrous for the country to have Narendra Modi as the prime minister” in a impassive, unflustered voice was more effective than harangues by all the Congress spokespersons doing the rounds of 9-pm debates on TV put together – he let it out loud and clear. “I do not believe I have been a weak PM,” he said, bringing an end to questioning on those lines. And "If you measure the strength of prime minister by presiding over mass massacre of innocent citizens on streets of Ahmedabad, then I do not believe in it," he added, for greater effect.
Modi and the BJP will of course come back with a riposte – they are past masters at this game – but what Singh did today was perhaps ruffle their feathers a bit. The Congress stood to gain more by ruffling a few more feathers, and for a longer period. For, as they say in cricket, you tend to mishit more after getting flustered – especially from quarters unexpected. As for the rest, there was little to take home from this fairly long press conference but a question back home: why field the PM if he had to play by the book, which everyone has been doing for so many months anyway.
Public sector undertakings (PSUs) can become more efficient only through discipline, said Anil Swarup, secretary, department of school education and literacy, ministry of human resource development. Speaking at the 2nd India PSU IT Forum organised by Governance Now on Wednesdaty, Swarup laid
Tejas Express, a semi-high speed train, is supposed to run at 200 kmph. But, on its inaugural run between Mumbai to Karmali (Goa), it touched a maximum speed of 110 kmph. A few days before it was flagged off by railway minister Suresh Prabhu on May 22, Indian Railways claimed that the train
The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the Jharkhand government and sought a report over 1,000 children being reportedly abducted and recruited by Maoists over the past few years. The commission cited a news article and said that it brings forth the sta
In 1998, as a 12-year-old, I was fascinated by the spectacle on display in the streets of Chandni Chowk, where I grew up, during the Chaudhvin Ka Chand festival, which recreated the Mugh
What restricts MOOCs’ acceptance despite having credits? It is just a matter of time. India has been used to the traditional way of education. However, the fact that India is the second biggest learner base for edX, after the United States, speaks volumes ab
Sameer Srivastava, a school topper from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, wanted to study in an IIT like any other engineering aspirant. But getting into an institution where only less than one percent of the applicants are selected was a big hurdle. Not cutting the IIT mark, Sameer decided to settle for an