The man we don’t know
Dr. Manmohan Singh, the 13th Prime Minister of India, only 2nd after Late Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru to hold this office twice in succession! Sometimes I wonder what went wrong, what led to the downfall of this resilient Sardar.
The 2004 general elections threw something unexpected. BJP was thrown out from power and Congress led by Sonia Gandhi had managed to turn the BJP’s India Shining campaign to its favor. The results were a surprise, exit polls were refuted; politics pandits were nowhere to be seen. However, we did not have a Prime Minister. The idea of Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister was vehemently opposed partly because of her Italian origin.What then followed has always been a proof of Sonia Gandhi’s sharp political acumen.
Dr. Manmohan Singh, a lesser known name amongst the Indian households, was nominated by UPA as the Prime Minister. Barely a politician, this man had already proved his mettle as a brilliant economist and bureaucrat. Having served as the Governor of RBI, deputy chairman Planning commission of India and later as the Finance Minister in the Narsimha Rao’s government, there weren’t many who opposed him.
Nation had its Prime Minister, a person known as a thinker and a scholar. In his first stint as Prime Minister, he encouraged growth of Indian Market. Continuing from where he left off as the Finance minister, his focus was upon making Indian economy strong. He was a firm believer of Liberalization and he enjoyed a lot of success in his efforts. The economic growth rate and GDP growth were impressive. He had silenced all his critics. Even when 2G scam was exposed, it was the UPA that suffered a loss in their public image but not Manmohan Singh. Despite the fact that Singh had never won a Lok Sabha seat, according to the BBC, he “has enjoyed massive popular support, not least because he was seen by many as a clean politician untouched by the taint of corruption that has run through many Indian administrations.” When it came to foreign policies, the man in command got his way through. Despite the third front withdrawing their support, he went ahead with Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Agreement.Whether or not this was the best decision is still argued, but what is important here is the point he made. Singh, who was always criticized by his opponents as the weakest Prime Minister ever, sent a message that UPA government under his leadership was not going to give way to the constant naggering of the opposition.
In the next general elections, Dr. Manmohan was the obvious choice of the UPA for their prime ministrial candidate. His silence which had constantly been criticized got the better of BJP’s Prime ministrial candidate Lal Krishna Advani’s blabbering.The faith shown in him reflected in the results when UPA returned to the office, this time with a greater number of seats.So far everything was picture perfect.
But things slowly began to change. No one could have predicted what was to come. With a series of scams being exposed (Commonwealth Games scam, Coal scam to name a few), Dr. Manmohan Singh took a back seat. It was increasingly becoming clear that the government headquarters was 10 Janpath. His silence on such issues when nation needed an answer, worked against him. The UPA had nothing much to show to its credit. The constant projection of Rahul Gandhi as their upcoming leader and the willingness of the local leaders to give him the authority made us wonder about the authority of Dr. Manmohan Singh in the party itself. People soon grew tired of accepting his silence as a sign of his intellectuality. It became a symbol of his incompetency.
In his first interaction with journalists, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to defend himself from the Oppositions’ criticism which described him as the “weakest” prime minister ever.
Singh had then said, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I have not done anything to deserve such epithets. I should be judged not by what Mr LK Advani says but what I do.” If only he could continue with this philosophy in his second tenure as well, he would have undoubtedly led us to prosperity and growth.
However, what still holds is the contribution made by Dr. Manmohan Singh to Indian politics. His policies which helped us survive the 2008 Recession, his liberalization policies, his perseverance during the negotiations of Indo US Civilian Nuclear Agreement, The recent scams might have made people to doubt his integrity but he would still be our man given that nothing substantial has yet been found against him.
The Independent described him as “one of the world’s most revered leaders” and “a man of uncommon decency and grace,” noting that he drives a Maruti 800, one of the humblest cars in the Indian market. Khushwant Singh lauded Singh as the best Prime Minister India has had, even rating him higher than Jawahar Lal Nehru. In 2010, Newsweek magazinerecognized him as a world leader who is respected by other heads of state, describing him as “the leader other leaders love.” The article quoted Mohamed ElBaradei, who remarked that Singh is “the model of what a political leader should be.” Singh is number 18 on the 2010 Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people. Forbes magazine described Singh as being “universally praised as India’s best Prime Minister since Nehru”. Australian journalist Greg Sheridan praised Singh “as one of the greatest statesmen in Asian history.”
With this elections, his political career comes to an end. His rise in the Indian politics can never be disregarded. The government failed us but as an individual, Dr. Manmohan Singh stands tall above his compatriots.