There you go again! The PM has no connection with his PMO!

Wait for the day when you will be told that Manmohan the individual can't be held responsible for what Manmohan the prime minister does


BV Rao | February 6, 2012

Prime minister Manmohan Singh
Prime minister Manmohan Singh

This comment first appeared on this website way back in June last year. The supreme court had just condemned the delay in instituting a CBI probe into the 2G scam in spite of repeated representations to the prime minister by Subramanian Swamy. The court passed strictures against the prime minister's office for the delay. Manmohan Singh's spin masters immediatey gloated over the fact that the PMO was indicted, not the PM! This column was written then. It bears repetition today because something similar has happened. While giving the government a pasting for interferring with the CBI's Coal Scam investigation, it indicted the PMO again. And sure enough the Congress and government spin masters are happy. One year of shame heaped upon shame, and everything is still the same!

Two damning judgments in three days that almost brought the government down and all that the prime minister cares about is that the supreme court has not indicted him! The retort is the same each time: I’m OK because I didn’t do it.

Also read: Manmohan's ad spiel: Sarkar bachti hai toh daag achche hain!

It does not matter that the government he heads is made to look immoral, unethical and downright corrupt. As long as the court scalds his ministers and carefully skirts around his role, it is par for the course, even if the minister looted the nation right under his nose and was all but knighted by the prime minister for his selfless service to the telecom sector.

It does not also matter that the court has severely indicted the prime minister’s office. As far as Manmohan Singh is concerned the prime minister’s office belongs to someone else. All that matters is that the supreme court has said the prime minister was not kept informed by his office. And since he has millions of other things to not do, so what if he did not do one more thing – such as asking his minions what they were doing about Subramanian Swamy’s petition while it kept getting passed down the line to his minions’ minions?

It does not matter either that meanwhile the whole country was on fire about the 2G scam and Swamy was sending reminders to him. It needs a thick hide specially processed for 76 years in bureaucratic craft to gloat over a supreme court judgment that spares him but damns his office. If the court said somewhere that the prime minister is different from the prime minister’s office or that the two have no moral, filial or professional bonds, we missed it.

The constitution knows only the prime minister. Any distinction and distance between the prime minister and the prime minister’s office is fictional. If it appears that the supreme court drew a distinction that’s merely because of the convention that one constitutional office doesn’t make a direct uncharitable reference to another. The supreme court’s courtesy is being bandied about as exoneration and testament to Manmohan Singh’s personal integrity.

It does not matter also that in another judgment the supreme court has binned the 122 spectrum licences doled out by A Raja. Raja was running the administration of a separate Dravidian kingdom independent of the Republic of India and its honourable prime minister. All that matters is that the court has said that Raja did not heed the prime minister’s advice. So the prime minister curled up, coiled up and withdrew into the safety of that shell fortified by his personal integrity.

Each time a court damns his government, the prime minister exults because he didn’t do anything, or he had no role in that particular decision. He never takes credit for doing anything. I’m dying to hear the PMO tell us some day that the prime minister did something. Anything.

He had no role in the deliberate delay over Swamy’s petition to prosecute Raja. He had no role in the illegal allotment of 122 licences that cost the country thousands of crores. He did not know anything about the Antrix scam in his own ministry that could have been bigger than 2G. He appointed PJ Thomas as CVC because the PMO failed to tell him about the latter’s troublesome past (it didn’t matter that Sushma Swaraj told him because he didn’t hear it). He didn’t know what Kalmadi was up to. And soon, if his government is foolish enough not to settle out of court with the army chief, you will hear that he had no role in that sorry tale of poor decision-making either.

How does a prime minister manage to not know or not do so much? For a man who values his personal integrity more than the prestige of the institution of the prime minister of India or that of the government he heads, he does precious little to protect or enhance it.

Manmohan and his spin masters are taken up by their own “unimpeachable personal integrity” sales pitch. “My government might be a waste dump, but look at me, I’m spotlessly clean.” Yes sir, we are grateful to god and your dry cleaner but will you care to look deep into your dirty cabinet? We can even predict their next line if a court were to hold the prime minister responsible for doing something. They will seek to draw a distinction between Manmohan the prime minister and Manmohan the individual and celebrate vindication of the latter’s personal integrity because, you’re right, he did nothing. For once it won’t be a difficult line to swallow.

Is this prime minister for real?



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